Woodberry Forest School

Woodberry Forest,

Student Housing and Capital Improvement Advisory Services

In December 2016, Woodberry Forest School – an all-male boarding school with just under 400 students – engaged Brailsford & Dunlavey to conduct a capital improvements plan. The two key objectives of this plan were to maximize the impact of the school’s “Renewal, Replacement, and Reserves Fund” and to deliver a master housing plan that met the school’s long term enrollment demand and outside-the-classroom program requirements.

The plan included an investigation of the historic Walker Building’s programmatic needs and the renovation of Hanes Hall into a residence hall. The school’s existing portfolio of eight residence halls was providing an uneven residential and level-of-supervision experience for its students, and leadership believed that an impactful and engaging campus experience plays a central role in fulfilling its mission. B&D embarked on this planning effort to identify the school’s student life and residential needs with the goal of increasing the overall quality of the student experience and exploring how improvements made as part of the plan would address the physical plant’s existing and anticipated deferred maintenance needs. Furthermore, acknowledging the role of administration in the overall quality of the student experience, the school was interested in consolidating administrative spaces into the Walker Building.

To lay the groundwork for its planning efforts, B&D conducted a series of interviews and analyses that included:

• Its proprietary Strategic Asset Value work session with the school’s leadership team to prioritize and clarify the strategic objectives the plan must address
• Administrator interviews and focus groups to gain their perspectives for the plan
• A peer benchmarking study
• A detailed program development and phasing strategy
• A development budget

In addition, B&D developed a capital improvements plan that enhanced the school’s value by bolstering its outside-of-the-dorm-and-classroom experience, modernizing the residential facilities, and optimizing the use of the existing physical plant for flexibility and preservation of the RRR fund.

Having consolidated its analysis, B&D recommended the school develop a revised program to consolidate student activity on the ground floor of the Walker Building, renovate the existing Hanes Hall into a residential facility to accommodate “swing” student beds during renovations of other residential facilities, and relocate the school’s health services into Hanes Hall to conveniently support wellness needs. A sequencing plan was created for these developments, along with a programmatic space requirements plan for student rooms, faculty-in-residence apartments, health center spaces, administrative spaces and a student activity center.