Alten Construction completes Palo Alto High School’s Performing Arts Center

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SEPTEMBER 16, 2016

Alten Construction completes Palo Alto High School’s Performing Arts Center

Palo Alto High School will host a gala opening weekend for the school’s new state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center on Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.

The celebration will mark the official grand opening of the facility. Construction on the Performing Arts Center began in June 2014 and was completed in May 2016. The full-service San Francisco Bay area commercial construction company Alten Construction was the general contractor for the project, fs3|Hodges was the construction manager and Deems Lewis McKinley Architecture designed the building.

“We’ve had a lot of requests from other schools and architects to see the space,” said Tom Hodges, principal at fs3|Hodges. “Everyone who’s been through it has been really impressed. The interior of the house really came out nice. It has a series of arches that span the house and seating area, which ties in with the style of the campus.”

The new 26,000-square-foot center complements the historic 1920s Mission style of the other buildings on the Palo Alto High School campus and the Stanford University campus across the street. The theater creates a gateway to the high school and will be used by students in the school’s performing arts program.

“The way the Performing Arts Center was designed and built really blends the building in with the surrounding structures,” Alten Construction project manager Chris Murphy said. “It’s a brand new building, but from the exterior appears as if it has been a part of the campus for years. We were fortunate to work collaboratively with such an exceptional owner and construction manager, remarkable architecture firm and diligent inspector, and we gave it our all. That really shows with how beautiful the building turned out.”

Prior to the new theater’s construction, the school used the 1917 Haymarket Theater building on campus for performances. That theater will continue to be used for guest speakers, lectures and meetings. During the 2016-17 school year, the school district will use the new Performing Arts Center exclusively for choir, orchestra, band and theater performances. Then the district might rent the theater for touring productions, community performances and other events.

“This isn’t just a standard high school theater,” Murphy said. “It has 583 seats, a Meyer Sound system, a full fly tower, a motorized orchestra pit and box seats.”

Alten Construction managed all aspects of the Performing Arts Center project, including underground utilities, extensive structural steel and framing, roofing, heating, plumbing, electrical, wheel chair lifts, a lobby area, a concession area, dressing rooms, a classroom, restrooms, spiral staircases and a fire protection system with a diesel fire pump.

During construction, Alten was forced to pour almost all of the structural concrete during the wet winter months to maintain the schedule. A means and methods combination of stepped and formed footings poured in phases, footing protection and rat slabs allowed Alten to prevent a wet weather delay in an already condensed schedule.

Alten Construction worked with several subcontractors on the project, including HA Bowen Electric, PCD Audio-Video System Integration, Concord Drywall, LVH Entertainment Systems, Westco Engineering and Commercial Storefronts.

“If you walk through the building, the quality of construction is really good,” Hodges said. “That speaks to how well Alten put the project together and the quality of work they demanded from their subcontractors.”

The Palo Alto Unified School District used part of a $378-million facilities bond passed in 2008 to construct the Performing Arts Center.