Needham High School
Needham, MA


With HVAC systems beyond useful life, undersized classrooms and outdated technology, the school needed a makeover.  Sited on a hill in a historic district, the original 1929 building had been added onto in 1955 and 1967 creating a sprawling, multi-level, non-ADA compliant facility.  The priority was to preserve the 1929 building and create a state-of-the-art educational campus with a consolidated entrance.  DRA’s solution was endorsed by the Needham Historic Commission and local planning board as part of an extensive site plan review process. 

The existing and new come together at the new entrance connecting the east and west sides of the site. The four story structure was built into the hill on existing playfields to allow the school to remain in operation during construction. The new complements the existing with similar geometry but uses metal elements for a modern feel. Although the new building is four stories, it sits one story lower in deference to the existing building.  

The fine and performing arts department volunteered to be relocated into the renovated existing building because of the abundant natural light. Undersized classrooms were combined to create larger spaces for specialized program areas like photography, graphic arts and ceramics. 

Renovation work included brick facade restoration (cleaning, repainting) and the reconstruction of entry stairs.


Addition / Renovation
97,340 SF Renovation
182,740 SF Addition 
$48 million Construction Cost
2009 (substantial completion)


Principal in Charge:

James A. Barrett, AIA, LEED


Project Manager:

R. Judd Christopher

To learn more about this project, services provided, and our Public & Charter K-12 practice, please email us:

Massachusetts Studio
235 Bear Hill Road, Fourth Floor
Waltham, MA 02451
T. 617.964.1700
F. 617.964.1701

Connecticut Studio
225 Oakland Road, Studio 205
South Windsor, CT 06074
T. 860.644.8300
F. 860.644.8301


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