Architects are sketching plans for Gunn High School that supporters say could give the school a "much more open and welcoming entrance to the campus" from the parking lot.
The plan so far is to demolish the music building and construct a 14,000-square-foot addition onto the front of the adjacent Spangenberg Theater, according to a conceptual design presented to the Board of Education Tuesday, Feb. 25.
A small portion of the addition would serve as a new lobby for Spangenberg, opening up to Gunn's parking lot. But the bulk of the new space would be devoted to a student lounge and activities areas, student services, flexible classrooms, a copy center, storage areas and potential space for the school's College and Career Center.
Planners have dubbed it the "Central Building Project."
The school board approved the conceptual design, authorized a proposed budget of $19.4 million and gave architects the green light to proceed with more detailed designs.
Construction could begin in the fall of 2015 if all goes smoothly, school district officials estimated.
"This is going to be an incredible gathering place and central feature for this campus," said school business official Bob Golton, who is overseeing major construction throughout the school district under the $378-million "Strong Schools" bond passed by voters in 2008.
Gunn Principal Katya Villalobos said she hopes funds can be found to make the addition two stories, which, she said, would "give us the most flexibility and potential for growth for the future."
Flexibility aside, school board member Heidi Emberling wanted more specificity.
"If this is going to be a two-story, central campus showpiece, what's it going to be exactly?" Emberling asked. "It seems like a wide variety of lots of different possibilities, and I'm trying to understand the umbrella theme or vision for it."
Villalobos said the first-floor, student activities areas would face out onto the school's quad. On the second floor, she said, "it depends on how we assign the classrooms. If, for example, the small learning community had an interdisciplinary project, they could sign up for the classroom like they would a computer lab."
She said teachers have been asking for flexible collaboration space that can accommodate more than 35 or 40 students.
Also, Villalobos said, the College and Career center could be moved from its current location in a portable to the more centrally located new building. Assistant Principal Tom Jacoubowsky said psychological counseling services for students also could be located in the new space.
Architect Erwin Lee said, with the new design, the entrance to Spangenberg will be easier for visitors to find.
"The fact that the music building is coming down is going to open up this whole space and make it really visible from the parking lot," construction manager Tom Hodges said. "Plus, the whole new entry and drop-off area, and how that opens up into the quad area, is really going to transform the feel of this campus. It's not something you see very easily now.
"It's going to be a much more open and welcoming entrance to the campus."
Conceptual plans so far have been developed by the Gunn staff as well as the school's facilities task force, which includes parents.