New building takes shape

The construction of the Center for Community and the Arts, set to open in December of 2016, is currently on schedule and on budget.

This building will feature a new stage and spacious seating, and will function as a multi-purpose space for events including assemblies, class meetings, and performances.

“When everyone comes back after winter break next year, that’s when we hope we’ll be able to use it,” James Busby, head of school, said.

Construction began this past spring. The completion of this building will mark the end of the years-long campus enhancement plan.

“The construction on campus always brings an exciting vibe. We’ve all been waiting for the newest addition, so the new performing arts building will make everyone’s school experience great,” junior Berkley Morgan said.

According to Deborah Monroe, Upper School principal, seniors will be able to write on the beams of the Center for Community and the Arts upon the building’s completion.

In the coming months students should expect to see lots of concrete trucks, steel beams, and welding.

“We are in the concrete deck phase, so we are actually building up each of the floors. Right now we have steel floors down, so we will pour the concrete and start building up the skin of the building,” Matt Cowles, Head of Construction said.

Cowles is the head of construction on the project. He has worked on significant projects including the J. Paul Getty Center; LAX terminals 6, 7, and 8 for United Airlines; the Ronald Reagan Air Force One Pavilion; and the Advanced Health Science Pavilion at Cedars-Sinai Hospital.

“I have been with Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Company 29 years. Being a residential neighborhood, there are many restrictions that would not come up in a normal project. That coupled with it [the construction site] being a functioning K-12 makes it challenging to schedule concrete trucks. The most challenging part is getting people in and out in a school environment. Having 830 kids come in and out of your job site everyday makes it a little difficult to control and manage and make sure everyone is safe,” Cowles said.

Hathaway Dinwiddie is still in the early stages of construction of the building. Unlike the Academic and Performing Arts Building or the Mathematics and Science Building, the Center for the Community and the Arts is taking two years of construction rather than one.

“This building actually has a basement in it, and the other buildings do not have basements. The process of actually digging that out, forming those walls, and taking all of that dirt offsite adds a whole other process to construction that those buildings never saw. I believe it is a great thing because you get so much more square footage for your area, ” Cowles said.

The next four to five months of construction will be dedicated to enclosing the building before the rainy months. The next six to seven months following the building enclosure will focus on the interior design and technical features of the building.

“It is an auditorium, so people are going be testing stuff and seeing if everything works perfectly. Then they will change things to make sure that it does work perfectly, ” Cowles said. “We are ending the structural steel phase and moving into the decking and concrete floor phase. There are, on average, 35 construction workers on the job at this point. This will increase as we get the walls closed in, and I can bring people in to work on the inside,” Cowles said.

Although the campus construction project will increase the square footage per student, enrollment will stay the same.

“I’m excited for the school to be complete,” Morgan said. “I’ve seen a lot of changes at this school and the completion of this building is kind of like a grand finale.”