2023 Award Winner – Silver Building Construction: Connolly Brothers Inc.

Project Name: New England Academy (South Shore Campus)
Owner: New England Academy
Design-Builder: Connolly Brothers, Inc.
Lead Designer: Connolly Brothers, Inc.
Major Participants: BLW Engineers; JSN Associates, LLC; Stenbeck & Taylor, Inc.

New England Academy, serving grades 7 – 12, is a private special education school devoted to providing students with the academic challenge and clinical support they need to succeed. New England Academy previously selected Connolly Brothers for an earlier campus expansion project, launching its flagship 40,000 square-foot North Shore campus in Beverly, Mass. in 2014. Pleased with the campus’ planning, design, and construction, New England Academy again selected Connolly Brothers when it began planning to expand with a South Shore campus.

Connolly Brothers provided pre-construction, design, and construction management services for New England Academy’s South Shore campus. The pre-construction process included site selection, feasibility studies, estimating, permitting, and budgeting on behalf of the future tenant. New England Academy chose an undeveloped parcel of land to be the home of its new campus. With a footprint of 28,055 square feet, the campus features contemporary classrooms, state-of-the-art laboratories and artistic/creative spaces; modern administrative offices for faculty and staff; a full gymnasium and athletic field; and a cafeteria designed for bolstering community at the school.

Using the design-build model, the project was completed in just under one year. The school’s leadership worked with Connolly Brothers to ensure an equally high-quality outcome for its new campus as in the Beverly campus. The design and construction teams were able to turn supply chain-related challenges into value engineering wins for New England Academy. They showed dogged commitment to overcoming external construction and design challenges, and an impressive degree of productivity demonstrated to deliver an entirely new school campus in less than one year while meeting the exacting – rightfully so, given the student population served – standards of the client.

New England Academy Executive Director Ryan Plosker said, “Connolly Brothers has been a great partner in helping New England Academy achieve its campus dreams and providing a space where our students can flourish.”

Initial teaming partners—consulting engineers—were brought on board as soon as the
site was identified. RFPs were then distributed. Connolly Brothers selected trusted partners who were the best fit for the project.

They began operating as “one team” on this project during the preconstruction phase, with
Connolly Vice President of Preconstruction and Connolly Vice President of
Design closely collaborating throughout the planning and design process to ensure that they would be able to design to budget while strictly adhering to programmatic needs. The team remained in close communication to ensure that plans aligned with the budget.

The school’s team members were engaged early in the feasibility, estimating, and site selection process. They remained remarkably committed to collaborating with Connolly to establish a design vision of the building.

On of the challenges overcome was the extraordinary time it took to get the rezoning approval for the site. With Connolly advocating for the school the rezoning was completed without threatening the project schedule.

Another external challenge came in the form of extreme precipitation. The heavily sloped
site required terracing to create suitable levels for the building and the athletic field, and
following initial sitework, it became clear that keeping water and run-off on-site would be
a challenge. Concerned about flooding neighbors, the Connolly team sprang into action
with an expedited subsurface infiltration plan. Prioritizing keeping water and silt on site,
the team built on-site retention basins, silt socks, and trap rock systems until the
subsurface infiltration plan could be completed – which occurred and was plumbed into
roof drains with remarkable speed.

A third example of an external challenge surfaced when the area’s utility supplier stated
that the building, designed for connection with natural gas, would not be linked in to the natural gas system. Connolly designed propane farms while at the same time advocating on behalf of New England Academy. Once again, those efforts delivered results and the school was connected to natural gas.
The most significant challenge came during pre-construction and early design
work, when it became clear that steel was in short supply and, once available, would be
cost-prohibitive for New England Academy. Rooftop units, window units, and granite
curbing also raised supply chain concerns. The Connolly team found a way to turn each of these concerns into value-engineering wins for New England Academy.

Relying heavily on it’s design and estimating staff’s extensive experience as to what is feasible within budget, Connolly’s team was fully aligned in their aim to provide New England Academy with the best possible campus for its students without superseding the institution’s budgetary
limits.

By taking time to understand needs and wants as well as fiscal frameworks, Connolly takes pride in working closely with clients to establish an accurate project landscape, determining a realistic
control budget, and creating a corresponding schedule with built-in milestones. With
estimating, design, and project management centralized, Connolly offered their client the best
that the design-build model has to offer: a single point of contact and responsibility and
efficiencies of cost and time.

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