Feasibility Study Overview


During the Feasibility Study, the Arlington community will create a vision for the new/renovated High School.  This vision will include the educational plan for future programs and courses, desired architectural spaces and the role of the building in the community.  The Feasibility Study is a critical part of the project and will ultimately determine what the future High School will look like.

View a diagram of the steps in the Feasibility Study process.


HMFH Architects, the designer for the AHS Building Project, will conduct the Feasibility Study in close collaboration with the AHS Building Committee, school administration and staff, Skanska (the Owner’s Project Manager), and the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). The final outcome of the Feasibility Study will be the selection of a preferred option for a new/renovated High School.

The Feasibility Study began in November 2017 and is expected to be completed by August 2018.  The Study is a lengthy process due to the sheer volume of work and analysis it takes to arrive at a final decision point.  A lot of careful thought goes into the process to ensure the final outcome fits the current and future needs of Arlington.  

The Feasibility Study has two main tracks that occur simultaneously:

  1. Programmatic needs and visioning – discovery sessions with all stakeholders to determine the educational needs and vision for the facility
  2. Survey of the physical condition of the current facility – analysis of the existing building/site and alternative sites

Once this work is completed, HMFH will use all the information gathered to generate at least three alternatives for a future High School.

Community Input

HMFH, the AHS Building Committee and the school department will host a series of open forums from January to April 2018 to solicit the input of community members and provide updates and information about the Feasibility Study process. The forums will be collaborative,  brainstorming sessions to create a shared vision for the future High School.

The forums will explore:

  • Strengths, challenges, opportunities and goals of the facility
  • Key architectural spaces (agile classrooms, collaborative spaces, auditorium, performing arts, etc.)
  • Environmental and sustainability goals
  • Role of the building in the community

Educational Vision

In addition to the community forums, there will be a 50-60 person committee that will work specifically to articulate the educational vision for the future school. This Educational Visioning Committee will have strong educator representation, as well as representation from other stakeholder groups (students, parents, town officials, community members).

The educational vision will describe the possible curricula, courses and programs that will be offered at Arlington High School and is a key driver of the design for the building. For example, the outline of the science, arts, and mathematics curricula will inform the design of classrooms, labs and program spaces allocated for those curricula. School district leaders and AHS faculty have also completed work that will contribute to the final educational vision.

Educational Program

The educational vision and community forums will inform the School Department’s development of the Educational Program for the future facility. The Educational Program is the documentation of the existing program of studies and the proposed educational functions of a future High School. The Educational Program includes a statement of teaching philosophy, an explanation of the High School’s curriculum goals, and a description of facility needs and design features that will realize the educational vision.

The Educational Program is then used to create an Initial Space Summary, which lists out the educational spaces needed for the High School.

The Initial Space Summary is a spreadsheet that includes the number and size of:

  • classrooms
  • science labs
  • collaborative spaces
  • special education classrooms
  • auditorium/performance space
  • media center
  • cafeteria
  • faculty workspaces
  • school administration offices
  • other desired features

Evaluation of Existing Building and Site Conditions

In order to fully understand the scope of the project, HMFH will do a detailed and thorough analysis of the existing facility and the site. This includes:

  • Conducting a traffic study to fully understand arrival, departure, parking, and the impact on the surrounding neighborhood
  • Consideration of non-AHS uses of the current building: School Department, Facilities Department, Town Offices, Menotomy Preschool, etc.
  • Potential investigatory work of building and site
  • Assessment of hazardous materials in the building or on the site
  • Additional data that identifies problems and conditions that have implications for the design and development of building options

In addition to the analysis of the existing High School location, Arlington, in conjunction with HMFH, is required by MSBA to identify and evaluate all potential sites in Arlington that could accommodate a High School. Rule of thumb dictates that approximately 25 acres of land are needed.

Building Options & Cost Estimates

Once the existing conditions and Educational Program needs are fully understood, HMFH will develop at least three options to consider.  MSBA requires at least three options that include: renovation only, renovation with new construction, and new construction only. Both HMFH and Skanska will provide a high level cost estimate for each option.  In addition, HMFH will present pros and cons of each option based on educational, site and construction issues.

HMFH will guide the AHS Building Committee and community in evaluating the design options given the priorities identified and cost considerations.  Once all options are presented and fully evaluated, the AHS Building Committee and School Committee will vote which preferred option to pursue.

Preliminary Design Program

The building and site assessment and the preliminary evaluation of alternatives will be submitted to the MSBA by April 2018 in a report called the Preliminary Design Program. The MSBA will review the program to determine if it concurs with the Initial Space Summary, the preliminary evaluation of alternatives, and if it accepts Arlington’s recommendation of proposed preliminary alternatives to be further studied.

The Preliminary Design Program includes:

  • Educational Program
  • Initial Space Summary
  • Existing Facility Floor Plans
  • Evaluation of Existing Conditions (building code, landscape, architecture, food services, etc.)
  • Site Development Requirements
  • Preliminary Evaluation of Alternatives (including cost estimates)

Preferred Schematic Report

After the MSBA has voted to accept the Preliminary Design Program, Arlington and HMFH proceed with the final evaluation of the proposed alternatives. This work results in the creation of the Preferred Schematic Report. This report includes:

  • Evaluation of existing conditions
  • Final evaluation of alternatives
  • Preferred solution

The Preferred Schematic Report will be submitted to the MSBA in July 2018

Feasibility Study to Schematic Design Phase

Once the MSBA votes to approve Arlington’s preferred solution (anticipated August, 2018), the project can advance into the next major project phase: Schematic Design. The Schematic Design Phase involves creating more complex design drawings and specifications of the preferred option to allow for more specific cost estimations.


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