Upcoming construction projects remain on schedule

Emilia Diaz-Magaloni and Mary McNamara

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Construction of Preforming Arts

The construction for the Performing Arts Center is on the way. The structure currently visible is part of the fly, according to Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson. Photo by Emilia Diaz-Magaloni

Changes are quickly approaching for the Palo Alto High School campus, as plans for the new Performing Arts Center, athletic facilities and Library buildings buildings develop.

Performing Arts Center

Over the past couple of weeks, students may have noticed the recent additions to the construction the new Performing Arts Center, such as structural framing, plumbing and foundation work. According to choir teacher Michael Najar, the construction is going according to plans. At the current pace of construction, the Performing Arts Center should open March 2016, according to Najar.

According to Najar, the school recently received news that many small additional parts to improve the quality of the building will be paid for by the district. These parts include and an automatic platform lift, special lighting, an automatic orchestra lift and extra movable seats.

“They will give the extra pizzazz that makes the building special,” Najar said.

The Performing Arts Center will still need to fundraise for programmatic equipment such as microphones and a piano, according to Najar.

According to Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson, who oversees facilities and budget, the structure currently visible is part of the fly, which is used for storing and changing the background sets on stage. Berkson added that the plumbing for the building is close to completion.

Other changes to the area include a city-planned removal of the old crosswalk, which connects Paly to Town and Country; however, “there will be some sort of path,” Berkson said.

Athletic facilities

Visible action has yet to be taken on the demolition of the Big Gym, which was initially scheduled to be demolished last May. However, according to Berkson, plans for construction of the new Gym are in their last stage of approval by the state. According to Berkson, the next stage in the process involves receiving bids from subcontractors.

“Once the plans get approved, the contractor will get bids from subcontractors, and the remodeling will be on the way,” Berkson said.

After almost a year of delay, the 18-month-long project is slotted to begin this summer, according to Berkson.

Library

Plans for remodeling the Library are on the way as the librarians push for their turn at a new building.

During the construction, the Library will be moving to the Student Center, according Paly librarian Sima Thomas.

”If all goes as we hope, demolition of the current Library will start at the beginning of summer and be moved into the Student Center by next school year,” Thomas said.

According to Thomas, the new Library plans to include the guidance department, student services, a mezzanine level for archives and high density storage, a place for the entire staff to meet, a classroom, digital lockers, reading spaces, a makers space and a computer lab. The librarians went to the Mitchell Park Library for inspiration and have decided to add study rooms similar to the group work rooms at the Mitchell Park Library, according to Thomas.

According to Thomas, one of the main goals of the new Library is to change the ambiance from a walk-through and bustling hotspot to a destination set aside for reading and learning.

“We [the Paly librarians] are hoping to turn the library into [a] visually more beautiful space but also promote a love of reading,” Thomas said.

The high ceilings of the current building cause sound to travel and make the library less of a quiet space used for the purpose of relaxing, reading and studying, so Thomas says she hopes the new library designs will eliminate this problem.

“We want the library to be much more of a heart of campus,” Thomas said.