HMFH Architects

Winthrop Middle/High School Earns LEED Gold

Situated at the north entrance to Boston Harbor, the Town of Winthrop, Massachusetts is an oceanside community on a peninsula. It is afforded a 7-mile shoreline that provides views of the Atlantic Ocean to the east and of the Boston skyline to the west; however, it is also susceptible to severe flooding from winter snowstorms, summer hurricanes, and storm surges.

Building a new Middle/High school for the community challenged the design team to plan not only for sustainability and durability, but also climate change resilience.

Revised FEMA flood plain maps that came out during the design process showed that 90% of the town was within the 100-year flood plain, including the school’s site. In response, the design team moved forward with a plan to make the school as resilient as possible. By crushing the existing high school building – a concrete framed structure – the team was able to re-purpose the waste as structural fill and raise the first floor of the new building more than four feet above the flood plain elevation.

Mechanical equipment is carefully located to ensure uninterrupted operation in the case of a severe storm, while below ground storage tanks will hold flood waters. The building is also designed to continue function when power is lost. These measures, in combination with materials selected to withstand the coastal climate ensure that the LEED Gold certified building is a safe haven not only for its occupants, but for neighbors and community members in a weather or climate-related emergency.

We're very excited to have achieved LEED Gold certification. Silver was a must but through smart budgeting and planning and help from our team of HMFH, Skanska, and Gilbane, Gold was achieved. It's a benefit to our community that the project team was able to balance the limitations of the budget and schedule to achieve a beautiful environmentally friendly home for our children.

David GirardChairman of Design and Construction Sub-Committee, Winthrop School Building Assistance Committee