The science building renovation project is finally complete after construction on the site began over a year and a half ago.
Built to accommodate the growing student body, the addition will eliminate the need for science instruction in portable classrooms. The new building’s four rooms can hold 32-34 students each, renovation project manager Jun Zhao said.
Assistant Principal and construction liaison Jerry Berkson said the project, although delayed by a few months due to the initial stages of the pandemic, was generally a smooth experience.
“Early in the pandemic, people didn’t even know if you could go outside or not, so that set back some things,” Berkson said.
Zhao said earlier in the year when school was in session, the construction team struggled with working around class times and tried to be considerate of students learning in the old wing of the science building.
“Every now and then we would get complaints from the teachers and staff about the noise, though we did try our best to avoid making loud noises during class sessions and tried to schedule our activities to best fit everyone’s interest,” Zhao said.
Berkson said while the main goal of the project was to expand the science building, he and the other administrators who helped to design it ensured that the new classrooms with higher-end technology, like dimmable light fixtures as well as 86 inch TVs intended to replace projectors.
“(The classrooms) also are meant to be functional for all the different sciences, whereas the original rooms, you have your chemistry room and your physics room,” Berkson said.
According to Biology teacher Liz Brimhall, her portable classroom is old and outdated, so she is excited to experience the newness of the classrooms.
“I use this kind of over projector overhead projector that’s very old school, and the edges of the counters are coming off; (the portables) are just not built durably,” Brimhall said.
Aside from updated technology and new surfaces, Zhao said the rooms are more open and bright than those in the older wing.
“One room has a full height ceiling, so when you walk into that room, it feels much bigger than it is on paper,” Zhao said. “We also have a wall of windows that provides a great view of the exterior, which really opens up the space.”
Brimhall said she is also looking forward to moving out of her portable classroom for accessibility reasons.
“The hard thing is (the portables) are kind of far from the central science building, so I always had to move a bunch of equipment to have it in my classroom,” Brimhall said. “So I’m really excited to be closer to our bio lab prep area for sure, but also close to my colleagues.”
Berkson said the next renovation project at Paly is likely to be an update of the historic Tower Building’s interior, a roughly 18-month process he says won’t start for at least another year.
For Brimhall, the new building represents more than a nice facility for staff and students to enjoy.
Brimhall said, “It shows how much our school values science, and I think that’s really nice.”