New High School Exemplifies Cost Effective Design

Bids for Dover Area High School come in under budget amid environment of rising construction costs.

Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates (CRA) has provided successful solutions to the Dover Area School District’s elementary facility needs with two past construction projects.  The district was now at a crossroads with their aging secondary facilities and engaged CRA to develop the best solution moving forward.

CRA and stakeholders evaluate best option for the Dover Area School District

CRA begun this process by analyzing both the existing High School and existing Intermediate School.  Both facilities needed infrastructure improvements, but more importantly neither school could effectively deliver their educational program.  A steering committee was formed to develop options to solve these issues.  Along with CRA, this committee was comprised of board members, administrators, educators, students, parents, and other members of the public.   CRA developed 14 options which were narrowed down to 4.  The committee evaluated based on a variety of factors important to the district and community.  The option that met the district’s need was to construct a new High School on the existing site of the Intermediate School and convert the existing High School to the Intermediate School.  The existing Intermediate School would be demolished at the completion of the High School.

Option Evaluation Matrix


Locating a new school on the same site as an existing operating school provided some design challenges due to site constraints and field needs.  Circulation of students was also another key design element.  These constraints guided the eventual solution.  The High School is organized around career academies.  There was a strong focus to assure the design and layout of these academies did not create ‘silos’ where students were not exposed to other academies and class offerings.  Rather than creating ‘wings’ for each academy, the building was laid out with in a ‘loop’ circulation pattern creating interior courtyards.  These courtyards become functional teaching and gathering spaces.

New High School designed for 21st Century Education

Another initiative for the High School was to create an environment that reflected the district’s 21st century educational model.  This included making provisions for their advancing curriculum such as Agricultural Sciences, CNC, Robotics, 3D modeling, and Computer Networking.  Additionally, open flexible learning spaces were created that could be easily reconfigured and adapted to meet a variance of educational deliveries.

Flexible Open Classroom


All classrooms utilize the same flexible furniture allowing easy adaptation.  In addition, each classroom utilizes a mobile, interactive touch screen LCD display that affords them full flexibility of teaching approach.

Bids come in under budget

The biggest challenge in the entire process was putting together a solution that not only met every need of the district noted above, but was done so within budget.  This project was designed and bid amidst rising cost of construction and threats of trade tariffs which affected material pricing.  This was especially relevant due to the inclusion of more costly components such as a natatorium and a robust CTC program with complex shops.

New 6 Lane Natatorium


The bid results were $557,000 under the projected project budget of $56,420,000. This allowed the District to select some of the important alternate bids for the project, such as synthetic turf for the multipurpose field, and still remain under budget.

The average square foot cost for the project equates to $164 excluding site work.  When comparing costs to recent new school construction projects on Report 30 published by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, this new High School is more cost effective than any school bid in both 2017 and 2016.

Student Commons

Through careful and collaborative design of every component of the building, CRA was able to use its expertise to develop a solution that achieved all district goals.

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