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Community members: Keep Paly's historic look

Original post made on Jan 30, 2009

With plans underway to build a new theater at Palo Alto High School, community members expressed concern for maintaining the school's historic appearance Tuesday night.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 30, 2009, 9:56 AM

Comments (17)

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Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 30, 2009 at 10:22 am

Oh nooooooo don't do this! That end of Paly is BEAUTIFUL! I have many pictures of the tower building, it's rare to find such lovely old schools anymore. They already took out the amphitheater! If they have to build a theater, do it back there! Practicality should rule too, because taking up MORE space in the parking lot is not going to help matters much. There are parking issues as it is. I used to see cars parked on the bark. They also park all down El Camino then have to cross 6 lanes of traffic. I know they do that in part to avoid paying for a parking pass, but also because parking spaces are limited. Especially this time of year when Sophomores get their licenses.

This City is allowing too much of its heart and soul to be destroyed. We are losing beautiful old homes and buildings. Some by choice, some, others as the Walgreens building, not so much. It appears Palo Alto is trying to pack in as many people as it can with all these new cracker box condo units, McMansions and gathering places. Watch and see, in a few years we are going to look like Irvine! One big generic Mall dominated stucco City!

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Posted by Don G
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 30, 2009 at 11:02 am

The school should upgrade/replace the theater. Sure it is historic, but it's too small, too leaky, too spooky. Lot's of fond memories in there of performances and award ceremonies, but really, the school needs something new. I'm sure the district will come up with a feasible plan. I don't like to lose more parking either. Paly grad 1978.

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Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 30, 2009 at 11:30 am

I love the spookiness...I would love to see Phantom of the Opera in there...

I also remember the incoming Freshman orientation meetings at night there. The atmosphere of that place even awed the kids! It really felt like. Wow, HIGH SCHOOL...

Putting a theater in where the ampitheater was wouldn't hurt the look too badly. Wouldn't take out parking and could be accessed on the El Camino side easily. Maybe design it with a retro look like the housing that went up around Channing and Waverly...

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Posted by double check
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 31, 2009 at 12:43 am

I don't think the space formerly occupied by the amphitheater is still available. I could be wrong, but I think that's where the new science building sits. And as for the historical stuff, I understand, but I'm not sure the sentiments of folks driving by now and then should outweigh the needs of students who are there day in, day out, for four years, in need of space to accommodate all the high quality programs we expect schools to have. You can't have all the field space you want, all the performance space, studio space, classroom space, parking space, etc. When push comes to shove, sentimentality/historic look doesn't hit high on my priority list. It's on the list, though.

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Posted by garlandjordanpalygirl
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 31, 2009 at 1:54 am

Please keep the historic theater and trees!
There must be other solutions.
What about demolishing the rundown PAUSD offices on Churchill and locating the theater there?

The administration buildings can be relocated and moved into portables.
There are currently many commercial office spaces for lease in this city.

Additionally, you can feel what it is like being an elementary school child, or teacher - stuck in a portable (with a rattling air conditioner) all day long.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2009 at 9:05 am

Moving the district offices away from Churchill into some rented space elsewhere in the city makes excellent sense. The land there could be used for Paly. Since it seems that our high schools are going to grow enormously as opening a third high school is not on, then we need to expand these existing high schools.

PAUSD is growing and we are really at the stage where we could use the word crisis. The single storey district offices are sitting in an ideal cental location for use as either another elementary school, or a middle school or for more use for Paly. District offices could easily be transferred to some of the empty office space along Fabian and Bayshore. There is a huge new complex built on the old Scotts Restaurant near Mings on Embarcadero, and it appears empty as there are never any cars in the parking lot. The district could take up this office and free up Churchill for school use. This site would be ideal for all the out of towners who actually work in the district office as it would free up Churchill Road for the school commute.

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Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 31, 2009 at 11:21 am

I like the idea too. One additional thought, Íf a theater is built on that site close off the Churchill entrance and create a new one on El Camino. Being one of 3 c
RR crossings Churchill has had a huge increase in traffic over the last ten years. It really gets clogged and theater traffic would make that worse. The Churchill entrance is awkward and too close to the light, making for traffic breaks that cause more backups. An entrance on El Camino would help dispel that problem.

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Posted by in the know
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 31, 2009 at 11:39 am

Some comments:

1. Moving the district office would cost about $20 million. What part of the bond program should the district forgo? Do you want facilities way out there for Paly? An elementary school is WAY bigger than the DO and what kids would go there? Escondido isn't going to grow and neither is Hays.

2. Everybody wants to preserve the Haymarket and the main building. But both are useless educationally. The kids deserve a decent performing arts building! That needs to be a priority. I like to drive by nice buildings too. The problem is that they deprive students of the best opportunities to learn. The district is not a museum. It is engaged in the important work of educating kids. I hope they will keep their eyes firmly on this goal.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2009 at 12:48 pm

I also should have said that the district office site would also be ideal for a 4th middle school.

Come on folks, thinking outside the box is good. The cost of moving district offices could be borne by the developers building all this housing. We get school impact fees from new housing and that money could be utilised for getting us another school site. Moving the district office is one way of getting another site in a reasonable location while moving the offices to a more inconvenient locale makes sense.

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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 31, 2009 at 1:34 pm

My 2008 PALY graduate daughter was deeply involved in both theater and band.

From my participation as a parent, chaperoning, attending events, talking at length with faculty in those departments, it is pretty clear that they have a vision for what performing arts can be at PALY with a new facility as well as a badly needed renovation of HayMarket Theater.

PALY is blessed with very talented musicians, actors, and just as importantly, people behind the scenes such as sound and lighting technicians. The tools they have at Haymarket are holding them back, both proposed facilities are needed for our students to achieve excellence in their chosen areas of performing arts.

The proposed new facility can also serve purposes beyond performances. School assemblies, guest speakers, and other such things are a constraint with the exisiting physical plant, and even with HayMarket upgraded, it has less capacity than is needed for many events and opportunities.

I do agree with some of the posters that we don't want PALY to lose its character from the heritage buildings, and I am certain that there is a way to do that as new buildings are added to the campus footprint.

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Posted by YouShouldKnow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 31, 2009 at 10:13 pm

It distresses me so many care so little for that beautiful old building. I have put 6 kids through Paly plus my sibs and I graduated from there ourselves and found the present buildings adequate. Extend the building toward the back then and take out some of the green. If there is a production they feel will need more room for viewers they can perform at Spangler!

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Posted by johnny
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 1, 2009 at 11:46 pm

they either need to replace it completely, or completely retrofit it, gutting it from the inside out.
if they don't make a move quick, soon enough there will be some kind of performance going on with all the audience seats filled, the big earthquake that everyone is anticipating will occur, and then everyone in that building will die.
and it sure as hell won't be me, cuz i'm not setting foot in that building till its rebuilt.

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Posted by garlandjordanpalygirl
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 2, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Johnny -

The building has been through many earthquakes, like many older homes in Palo Alto. It was built to last.

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Posted by Bruce
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 2, 2009 at 7:55 pm

I went to Paly the year the opened the so-called new buildings for use. They tore down the wonderful old buildings with banks of windows to let in the light, and fresh air, and the occasional bird or bee too. The old buildings had covered halls and alcoves and to look at the remaining ones how nice they look compared to the new buildings which look like bombed out ruins, with assorted temporary huts with no windows, personality or ventilation.

I was happy that I got a chance to go to the old buildings, and I wish they had kept up that type of design. The old theater, covered halls and classrooms, along with the camponile(sp?) and grounds were really classic.

The new buildings have no windows, no personality, and did not age gracefully in the least.

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Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 2, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Folks, wake up. The architectural review board of Palo Alto is a bunch of self important modernist architectural wannabes. We need to listen to people like Bruce or the board will tear our city down one building at a time to replace them with with glass boxes. The board will allow some moron to design and build newer buildings that they claim will have elements of the old buildings. It will be a snow job.

Look at the Jos A Banks building on University. They claim that that building has classical elements - ha! Have you seen the renderings of the building that is replacing the Walgreens building??? It's a real beauty. The Walgreens building was only one of the most classic buildings in Palo Alto. It sits next to the original Palo Alto school building facade, which is nicely maintained. Now it will be in the shadow of a big green box.

Wake up Palo Alto, or will all of you buy into the lines of dribble coming from the architects?

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Posted by Rob
a resident of Woodside
on Feb 4, 2009 at 2:00 pm

I say they put some spanish tiles on the portables.

Who goes onto the Paly campus anyway, besides students and staff?

Why would the general public care what the campus looks like?

Save money and educate the kids, especially the ones who are just squeeking by.

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Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 4, 2009 at 2:45 pm


I see that you live in Woodside - nice place. Perhaps you should knock down your house and replace it with a nice doublewide. We're talking about avoiding the destruction of a beautiful, historic building.

Architecture is a strong societal signal of the importance of the activities in a building, an art form, and a teaching tool. Destroying the well executed old buildings in our city only to replace them with uglier, more functional buildings is a tragedy.

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

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