New music building opens to a chorus of praise

September 7, 2017 — by Michelle Lee and Mathew Luo

In 2016-17, students, teachers and parents were inconvenienced as they were fenced out of the usual front entrance to the school as construction took place on a new music building. That inconvenience is now over, and members of the music department are enjoying the results.

The 23,000 square foot, two-story music building now towers next to the McAfee Center and provides space for the school’s 600 music students to practice, rehearse and store their instruments. The new building, complete with a set of glass windows built to resemble a musical staff, is comprised of three separate rooms for orchestra, band and percussion, and eight individual practice rooms.

The building took just over two years and around $12 million to construct, and the primary construction team behind the building faced unfavorable weather and material delays; however, through overtime work, the music building was completed in time for the new school year, as promised by the builders.

The construction team of Aedis Architecture, Kramer Project Management, Swenson Construction and district officials all “worked incredibly hard to bring the building in on time and on budget,” principal Paul Robinson said. “When delays hit, they found ways to work on weekends to catch up. It was really incredible to see. They're the best team I've ever worked with.”

The old music rehearsal rooms in the music wing are being refurbished for the Media Arts Program, and the building has now been renamed the MAP Annex. There will be a large collaboration room, a multimedia room for digital photography and animated graphics and an editing and collaboration suites for student projects (see story on page 5).

In addition, the old instrument storage space, Room 901, is being renovated and has become English Department staff collaboration space.

With construction of the new music building over, Robinson said that the main office staff no longer have to endure the sounds of “jack hammers tearing up the Earth and can instead feel the rhythm of the building next door.”

The new building has also been received positively by music students.

“It was kind of surreal,” senior marching band drum major Austin Shi said. “Not that our old facilities were in any shape or form terrible, but the music program simply outgrew it.”

With the old music building, students often had to carry their instruments from one corner of campus to another for concerts in the McAfee Center. Students who played bigger instruments, such as senior Adriane Tran, often found the trek “exhausting.”

“When it’s time for concerts, it will be just more convenient and of course, it’s nice to have a larger space since the music program is so big,” Tran said.

Students are also grateful for the greater calmness and ease in practice, director Michael Boitz said. Not only were the original facilities older, unrefurbished and cramped, but the separation of storage and practice areas also forced students to move instruments from separate buildings across hallways to practice, leading to an environment of “mass chaos” and inefficiency.

“The music building is so much more convenient to use because of the wide spaces and the echoing acoustics,” junior Carolyn Ma said. “It is a little farther from everything and (choir director Andrew) Ford keeps telling the choir that he can’t hear any of our mistakes in the new building, but it’s fine.”

Though construction for the music building just finished, the administration already has plans for new projects in the near future.

“We have a lot to be thankful for,” Robinson said. “Our community and families have supported us through the Measure E bond, and we're continuing to make changes that support our students, staff and school.”