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New Gaithersburg High School

Gaithersburg, MD

New Gaithersburg High School
Gaithersburg, MD
General Contractor: HESS Construction
Architect: Samaha Associates, P.C.
Engineer: Strickler Associates, Ltd.
Contract Amount: T&M
Start Date: January 15, 2013
Completion Date: Substantial completion by August 26, 2013


The project to build the new Gaithersburg High School included renovation of an existing 1,000-seat auditorium, construction of a 3rd floor addition to the Arts wing completed in 2005, and complete replacement of the original 1951 school building on the existing 41 acre site. This new 420,000 square-foot facility was designed to encourage a flexible approach which accommodates changing educational programs, while maintaining an efficient and cost-effective use of space.

The mechanical system consists of a geothermal well HVAC system that is installed underneath the baseball field, football field and 2 other adjacent areas. This system is supported by 2 – 250 HP /3555 GPM system pumps that feed 17 energy recovery units along with 309 water source heat pumps and 2 – 40 HP/1890 GPM condenser water pumps which support a heat exchanger and cooling tower.

This project was designed for LEED Silver certification. LEED Gold certification is currently being pursued by the building owner, Montgomery County Public Schools. Shapiro & Duncan entered into this project following a bond default by the previous mechanical contractor. The project should have been approximately 65% complete, but it was actually less than 40% complete. We were brought on board in January 2013 and immediately determined the project status and negotiated contract terms with the bonding company to get the project back on track and successfully completed.

In a little over three weeks, our project management team was able to produce a full set of current contract documents, which included all RFIs and changes to date. Next, our field team did a complete job review and provided detailed equipment and material take-off lists (including items that were on site and items that were missing). This helped us determine what long lead items would be needed going forward.

One of the hardest challenges of this project was uncovering what the previous contractor had properly installed and completed for the mechanical and plumbing systems. Through our field team’s evaluations, we identified a long list of tasks that had to be completed to correct hundreds of deficiencies and meet contract requirements, including:

  • Removal and replacement of frozen geothermal valves in valve room
  • Removal and replacement of incorrectly sized and installed HVAC and plumbing sleeves
  • Installation of fire stopping at penetrations
  • Removal and replacement of incorrectly sized hangers for HVAC and plumbing piping systems
  • Installation of missed radon gas risers/vent piping and gauges (below floor and in wall)
  • Installation of missed isolation valves on the HVAC system
  • Removal and revision of incorrect plumbing rough-in for mop basins
  • Installation of non-installed rain leaders for storm water system
  • Removal and rotation of incorrectly set kitchen roof-top unit
  • Repairing HVAC piping where thread-o-lets had been installed and covered over with insulation
  • Reworking weld joints and valves in HVAC piping
  • Removal of non-specified galvanized piping for air compressor lines and replacement with Type K hard piping
  • Installation of numerous high piping drains on the HVAC piping system
  • Re-hanging incorrectly set ceiling heaters
  • Removal and replacement of incorrectly installed in-wall drains
  • Reworking incorrectly installed trap primers
  • Reworking missed sink plumbing rough-in
  • Removal and replacement of incorrectly installed kitchen floor sinks
  • Reworking incorrectly installed condenser water piping and fittings
  • Removal and replacement of gas piping in Science rooms due to incorrect pipe threading
  • Removal and replacement of PVC waste and vent piping that was found leaking during testing
  • Installation of missing through-the-roof penetrations
  • Installation of missing architectural grilles at garage elevation
  • Removal and relocation of incorrectly set console heat-pump units
  • Furnishing and installing replacement PRV fan that had been incorrectly set
  • Furnishing and installing missing electric heaters
  • Removal and replacement of incorrectly installed geothermal balancing valves


Through our team’s review and the information accumulated through our detailed overview process, we were able to revise the existing project schedule with the help of the original subcontractors and general contractor HESS Construction. The new working schedule we developed enabled us to implement the additional work force necessary to overcome the amount of rework, get the project back on schedule and maintain the project schedule without further issue.


Through our team’s diligent efforts, Shapiro & Duncan was able to step into a two-year project that was less than 40% complete, and in eight months finish the project in time for the original school start date of August 26, 2013. When the bell rang on opening day, the new $95.8 million dollar, state-of-the-art Gaithersburg High School was ready for students.

This project was an eye opening experience from the start and provided a stern test of our team’s capabilities. By taking on a project that was in default, overcoming a myriad of deficiencies and completing the job on time, Shapiro & Duncan has once again demonstrated that “Our People Perform.”