New project could transform entrance to Gunn

School board gives go-ahead to $19 million 'Central Building Project'

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.


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Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 7, 2014 at 8:30 am

Although this will not be completed until my students are finished with Gunn, it sounds like a great plan. No mention is made of a replacement for the music building, but I certainly hope the wonderful music program will get an upgraded facility. Also, I hope the architects who designed the new gym and other new facilities is the same one that will design this project as they did a wonderful job. The improvements to Gunn over the last few years have already had a positive impact over the entire campus and the daily lives of students and faculty. I would love to see what they can do to Spangenberg!

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Posted by Misha
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 7, 2014 at 10:50 am

While my child will also not be able to enjoy the new facilities, very happy to know that the space will be much improved and the environment more warm and welcoming. I hope that the changes will also include brightening up the entire campus, especially the campus is next to a cemetery (and really nothing else of note). And it would be great if the parking lot could be reconfigured as it is so confusing. With all the bright and creative minds at Gunn, perhaps there could be a student contest to redesign the parking lot!

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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2014 at 11:19 am

To make the campus "much more open and welcoming entrance to the campus" from the parking lot demolish the music building (but not build a replacement)?

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 7, 2014 at 11:23 am

Next to a cemetery and nothing else of note? Would you prefer something generating more traffic? It's a fine and private place, but none, I think, do there embrace.

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Posted by SC
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 7, 2014 at 11:46 am

Please dont spend money on this! Use it for a better purpose!

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Posted by Former Gunn parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 7, 2014 at 11:58 am

How about a wellness center and better counselling? I don't think a nicer entrance would have made my two students feel welcomed at Gunn.

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Posted by Leslie
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 7, 2014 at 12:06 pm

The dSchool at Stanford has fabulous flexible multi-use space for workshops, classrooms, design team use, lectures, etc eyc. It is designed to enhance a creative atmosphere. Please check it out before designing your flexible space.

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Posted by Mikey Palo Alto
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 7, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Mikey Palo Alto is a registered user.

I don't think having a "grander entrance" is reason enough to spend $19 million... Let's design something that gives us the collaborative space and other amenities without worrying about an "entrance" that won't even be close to the entrance of the school. Also, why would we start in the "fall 2015"? How about the summer before or after to minimize disruption to the academic year... the school has been one big construction project for last few years anyway... some students won't even enjoy a finished school during their 4 years there...

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Posted by parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 7, 2014 at 8:28 pm

This sounds like a cosmetic change to me. Will this really make a big difference in students' lives? $19 million is a huge sum. I wish some of that would be spent on funding student-interest programs or teacher grants. Most of the student clubs need boosters, they can do so much better with additional funding.

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Posted by Former Gunn Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 8, 2014 at 8:43 am

19 million sure sounds like a lot me! This money could be used for teacher grants, teacher salaries, professional growth, equipment & support for special needs students, wellness center along with a student based interest programs.

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Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 10, 2014 at 9:58 am

SteveU is a registered user.

What a waste of TAX money.
I could see a complete redesign of the traffic/parking flow. Like enter (only) from Arastedero and Exit (only) onto Miranda.
We have refreshed Class rooms and athletics. This is what Schools are about.

If you want to spend 19M, Refurb Cubberly

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Posted by Recent Gunn Grad
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 10, 2014 at 10:57 am

What happened to the wellness center we were supposed to get after the whole counseling thing? Counseling still sucks by the way. Did anyone notice? Not really. Why not spend a million on a nice private space for counseling? Why would anyone in their right mind spend 19 million dollars of taxpayer money on a "grand entrance" for a high school? OMIGOD someone get the hook.

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Posted by randy albin
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 11, 2014 at 12:44 pm

The Gunn Alumni Association is very successful. I am from the Class of 1975. the campus could be improved. keep up the good work and make it look good. look forward to your lives after graduating, etc.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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