Education Featured

Winooski School District Project Underway

The Winooski School District in Vermont is currently underway on a campus-wide project consisting of 16 phases and slated for completion in August of 2022. / Rendering courtesy of TruexCullins Architects

Winooski, VT – Construction management firm ReArch Company, Inc. is currently building a campus-wide project consisting of 16 phases for Winooski School District (WSD) in Winooski. The project includes significant renovations and additions to six existing school buildings and one new stand-alone maintenance facility.

Lobby

Designed and constructed to high-performance building standards, the 201,471sf, $51 million project features integral energy-saving components, including photovoltaic solar on multiple roofs around campus and the installation of a geothermal water loop that serves the mechanical system for the entire campus. WSD is also implementing a building management system integrating the mechanical and electrical systems to maximize energy efficiency and reduce annual energy costs.

The building envelope is designed to meet the stringent Vermont Commercial Building Energy Stretch Code, including continuous insulation, triple-glazed windows, and sun-shades on southern facing glass. The new additions are air-sealed and have ultra-low air infiltration, measured at ~0.10 [email protected] 75 pascals, near a passive-house standard. In addition to the high-performing new construction, the existing (uninsulated) structures will all be insulated and upgraded with new R-5 triple-glazed windows.

Library

Currently at 50% completion, the first phase of construction began in June 2020, with anticipated completion in August 2022. Construction started with the middle school and elementary school renovations, which included reinforcing existing roof areas for solar. The new gymnasium additions and stand-alone maintenance facility have been built, and renovations to the current gym, new cafeteria, and kitchen have also been completed. Existing locker rooms will be finished in September 2021.

TruexCullins Architects and its consulting engineers worked closely with members of WSD to create a state-of-the-art 21st century learning environment flexibly designed and able to evolve with changes to pedagogy. Understanding the importance of natural light in educational facilities, the architects designed classrooms flooded with natural light, as well as the interior common spaces, which feature saw-tooth daylight monitors bringing daylight deep into the building.

Upcoming work at the school includes a front entry addition and a new performing arts center, with completion expected near the end of November. In fall 2021, the project’s final phase will begin, including the library, pre-k/k classrooms, and renovations to the existing elementary school, finishing in summer 2022, along with playgrounds and a new soccer field.

The over two-year project is funded by a $57 million loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program, and the Heart of Winooski Foundation is actively raising funds to help offset the project cost.

Beginning in January 2020, ReArch Company assistant project manager, Danylo Whalen, worked closely with WSD to incorporate project related topics into the district’s STEM program curriculum. In this weeklong educational series, information was presented on energy sources, types of energy, and the importance of energy use reduction. Fourth graders created models and explored sustainable energy options for the WSD construction project.

Students explore sustainable energy options for school construction.

The pandemic affected material availability and cost, along with impacts to both supply chains and delivery. Tom Barden, owner’s representative, comments, “ReArch and their subcontractors are doing a great job in dealing with the impact of Covid 19. They have shown resilience and ingenuity in getting around problems and staying on schedule.”

In addition to material challenges, manpower is limited in this ultra-competitive employment market. Project Manager Mike Hollister comments, “Tom Barden, the owner’s project manager, has been integral in communicating between the school and ReArch especially given the unique situations that have resulted from the pandemic, and with coordinating complicated phases while the school has been continuously occupied required a significant team effort with all stakeholders.”

Performing Art Center with VR goggle Rendering

Winooski School District superintendent, Sean McMannon, comments, “My conviction has always been that our community deserves the same high-quality school facility that other communities in wealthier zip codes enjoy. So, we were excited to partner with ReArch and TruexCullins on this extraordinary transformation of our school campus. When we began, our guiding principles focused on creating open, versatile spaces with lots of natural light which would foster wellness, collaboration, and flexible learning spaces. As the project nears completion, it is evident that we have been successful in creating a safe, healthy learning environment that will support our innovative, proficiency-based education system for generations of students.”

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