Borough chooses familiar firm for high school project

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This conceptual design done by Kaestle Boos Associates shows what the front of Naugatuck High School could like after renovations. The firm was chosen as the architects for the project. CONTRIBUTED

NAUGATUCK — The school district is looking to the same architectural firm that led them through the conceptual design process to complete the renovation of Naugatuck High School.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses voted unanimously to hire Kaestle Boos Associates, Inc. of New Britain to design and oversee the project.

“We feel very comfortable with them,” said Burgess Bob Neth, who is on the Building Committee overseeing the project.

The committee interviewed four of seven firms last Wednesday that applied for the contract before narrowing it down to two finalists, whom they interview Monday.

Kaestle Boos was the lowest bidder, with a $3.05 million fee for their work on the $81 million project.

The other finalist, Fletcher-Thompson, came in with a bid of $3.15 million.

Neth said all the applicants had bids within $100,000 of one another and proposed similar timelines to complete the project.

He said the committee chose Kaestle Boos because the firm has been part of the process from day one and brought more to the table than Fletcher-Thompson in their second interview.

Neth said other school districts that had worked with Kaestle Boos had very positive comments about their experiences.

Kaestle Boos recently finished renovate-to-new projects in Watertown and New Canaan, and has worked with other high schools throughout the state. The $52 million Watertown project completed this year was similar to Naugatuck’s with renovations to science labs, kitchen, auditorium, gym, and locker rooms, and a new synthetic turf field. They also removed asbestos and did code-compliance work. Like Naugatuck, the work had to be done in phases while students were still in school.

“We are very pleased with the work KBA has done. The buildings meet our needs both now and for the future. Their staff is extremely professional and responsive, guiding through the entire design and construction process. They have met every challenge presented to them creatively and efficiently,” wrote Robert Porter, chair of the Watertown Public Building Committee in a recommendation letter.

Kaestle Boos has also won awards for their work at the Waterbury Arts Magnet School and Palace Theater.

“In working with KBA for the last few years, to me they are quite dedicated to the town,” Neth said.

David King, vice president of Kaestle Boos, will continue working with Naugatuck as principal-in-charge, while Construction Administration Specialist Firdos “Freddie” Khericha, who has worked with the borough and presented the plan to the public, will be the point person on site for the whole project, according to Neth.

“We are committed to working closely with your committee and all stakeholders in Naugatuck to provide a well-designed, sustainable high school that will be sensitive to the environment and provide maximum long-term return on investment,” wrote King in a letter to the building committee.

King wrote that his team has experience navigating the state requirements for renovate-to-new projects and that it is already familiar with Naugatuck High School, having designed renovations for its science labs, cafeteria, food service facilities, and solar panels on the roof.

“Our enthusiasm for this incredibly exciting project is exceeded only by our passion for providing Naugatuck with a creative and cost-effective, modern educational facility,” King wrote.

The architecture firm will take the next four to six months to design all the details of the renovation, in consultation with the building committee. Neth said high school Principal Jan Saam will play a big role in the project, with input from teachers and administrators members.

“There will be a lot of people involved with the project,” Neth said.

The designs done thus far were conceptual, Neth said. Now, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty details. He said people will want to see a whole new façade on the high school so it no longer looks like a product of the 1950s.

“I think it’s going to be the pinnacle of our town,” Neth said.

Once the design is finished, the committee will review it and might show it to the public before submitting it to the state for final approval.

Neth said he expects to see a shovel in the ground next November.