Project Details


Department of General Services



Services Performed

Pre construction, Construction Manager At Risk/Design-Builder


280,000 sq ft

Dunbar Senior High School

Washington, DC

Smoot Construction led the joint venture serving as the construction manager at-risk/design-builder for the award-winning Dunbar Senior High School, a new LEED for Schools Platinum certified, $128 million, 280,000 square-foot high school facility located in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC. The new facility features 362 geothermal wells that are 500 feet deep, as well as 1,750 photovoltaic panels and rainwater harvesting systems, among many other sustainable features. These elements are all employed to make Dunbar Senior High School the most efficient school in the District.


Smoot Construction provided full preconstruction services beginning at design development. These services included design and constructability reviews, estimating, value analysis, and the development and execution of a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) within the Department of General Services’ (DGS) budget. The team effectively supported design partner Perkins Eastman in local regulatory approval processes to include the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), DC State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the zoning commission.

There were several challenges associated with this project including the fast track schedule, an extremely tight site, and the discovery of the subterranean building which had asbestos and petroleum contamination. All of the HVAC, duct work, sprinkler systems, piping, and underground plumbing were prefabricated using 3D modeling to allow for more space on the extremely tight-site.

Dunbar exceeded its Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) and district resident hiring goals, which has helped to foster economic development in the District.

Located just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol, the new Dunbar Senior High School provides a high performance learning environment designed to catalyze the renewal of one of our most historic schools. Founded in 1870, Dunbar was the country’s first high school for African-Americans and its alumni include people of extraordinary accomplishment. The challenge was to create a facility that honors the past and the present while looking to the future. According to the Washington Post, Dunbar Senior High School achieved the largest increase in test scores of any DC school on the DC CAS tests.


  • World’s highest-scoring LEED school, earning 91% of base credits
  • A dozen industry-related awards earned
  • Enhanced acoustics that help create a high-performance learning environment
  • Certified Platinum = posted the highest standardized test score gains in the entire City


  • AIA DC Chapter Design Award – Award in Architecture
  • AIA DC Chapter Design Award – Presidential Citation in Sustainable Design
  • CEFPI NE Regional Award – Project of Distinction
  • Committee of 100 on the Federal City – Vision Award
  • Congress for New Urbanism, Charter Award – Best New Building (Civic)
  • Engineering News Record, Best K-12 Project Award
  • U.S. Green Building Council’s National Capital Region’s Project of the Year: Schools Award


“Smoot Construction provided exceptional customer service on the Dunbar High School Modernization project. Fostered a great team atmosphere with client, AE team and subcontractors. This project was extremely high profile and Smoot kept the project on time and on budget even through substantial unforeseen circumstances including $7M worth of hazmat, a strenuous regulatory approval process, and significant scope additions.”

– Greg Benson; Project Manager | DGS-DCPEP

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