Estimates for proposed school are due in February

Harvard can expect official cost estimates for the proposed new elementary school in early February 2018. The School Building Committee agreed at its Dec. 14 meeting that the architectural firm Arrowstreet should send schematic drawings of the current design to cost estimators at the beginning of January, giving the estimators about a month to come up with figures.

Larry Spang, principal architect with Arrowstreet, said two teams of estimators would work independently to calculate costs—one team from Arrowstreet and the other from Shawmut, the construction management firm recently chosen by the building committee. Spang said the teams would hold a joint, daylong meeting so that everyone interprets the schematic drawings the same way, ensuring that the estimates are truly comparable. Project manager Tom Murphy, from the company NV5, explained that having two teams provides a “check and balance” on the estimates.

Murphy said building committee members would likely vote on whether to accept the estimates at the next full committee meeting, scheduled for Feb. 2, 2018. The Massachusetts School Building Authority must also approve the estimates before evaluating the design itself. That way, if the estimates are higher than expected, the building committee can reconsider the design before submitting it to the MSBA. Assuming the estimates are acceptable, the building committee would then vote on the design itself and send it to the MSBA for evaluation.

The building committee’s Dec. 14 meeting also offered some new information on other topics. Project architect Emily Grandstaff-Rice said the proposed building would have energy recovery units for heating and cooling. These energy-saving units use air that is being exhausted from the building to precondition the fresh air coming from outside. Only the gym and offices that are used year round would have air conditioning. The rest of the building would rely on dehumidified air cooling, which is less expensive than air conditioning, to stay comfortable on hot days.

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