12 Comments

  1. Another mountain out of a mole hill concern. I trust Dr. Noonan’s input on this and you should too. Enough already.

  2. Charles, why would you trust Dr. Noonan’s input when theater experts believe the design is inferior for production, set design and other factors? The community has put forth some excellent reasons why the space needs to be larger.

  3. The community needs to stop gettingd in the way and frankly get over itself on this matter. I think Noonan has been clear enough. There are more important matters to focus on. Be happy you got your darn school funds and stop complaining over something that is a nit. The insurance situation alone appears to justify decisions made to date.
    Seems you people are never satisfied to be honest no matter what you get.

    1. To be clear, I did not vote for a new school. I think we should have done some upgrades to the current GMHS and not sell our land. I like to have open space and we will give all of that green space just for one school.

      I will continue to “get in the way” because it is my tax dollars and I don’t think the process is transparent and I don’t understand how you can build a new school, with a clean slate, and not design a theater with sufficient seats, a real stage and other features.

      You are correct, I am not satisfied. We are spending upwards of $125 MILLION for a school for a very small community and class size. That in itself is an INSANE amount of money for a glass and concrete box with tech components throughout. For $125 Million we get a micro stage and have to have 15 story buildings all around us to fund all the glass and concrete. I am very dissatisfied but at least we should have a proper stage instead of accepting Dr. Noonan’s comments. What happens later when we realize an additional 10 feet would have been proper? Oh, we’ll put in a change order or re-do it at a larger cost to the taxpayer.

      I don’t think the size of the stage is a nit when you are designning from scratch in a brand new building.

    2. We were promised a school building that would be better than we have now and the theater is a downgrade on several fronts. The current theater is in constant use both academically and by the community. It is not a place to cut corners. Since the community is fronting the $125M, it seems that the parts that the public might use should be outstanding.

      1. I agree and this is the time to get the space designed correctly and to the specifications that are typical of a community theater. Based on community feedback, this needs to go back to the drawing board for a thorough discussion.

        Due to the swift timeline, I believe they will approve this without the proper thought and then we will have to do change orders or be saddled with a less than optimal theater.

  4. Sitting in the October meeting and viewing the slide presentation, I was struck by two things in the latest diagram of the theater:

    1. There are serious issues with sight lines for folks in the front sections.

    2. By crowding seats up against each side wall, there are no side aisles – not only a potential egress issue, but also a performance issue (side aisles often used as a performance space). The person on the far left or right has 12 others to climb over to exit a row. That is a lot of people!

    Bottom Line: This theater space is too small to meet the needs of our high school.

    1. Isn’t it a safety issue to omit an aisle on a sidewall? I think it would be difficult to get everyone out of the theater safely if they don’t have egress.

      Do we use this theater for community rental? If so, shouldn’t we provide a theater that is designed so it can be rented?

      I thought one of the reasons for a new school was to have enough space in the theater to seat most of the students. What happened to that thought?

      1. Sally P – I think they will need to reconsider the side aisles. Or someone needs to explain how there is adequate egress for 500+ with only two center aisles and no side doors.

        One of the initial complaints was that the capacity for the new theater was less than the current. Then they came back with 100 more seats. If the theater width does not increase, then you can only add more seats by buying smaller ones, taking up side aisles, or decreasing the depth of the stage. Need wing space? Then decrease the width of the stage. Bottom line is that the foot print is too small for an adequate theater and heels are dug into the ground – they are not going to increase the building footprint and they are not going to change the widths of the two gyms which have been planned to detail in order to have competitions. But the theater will not be able to host music competitions because the stage is too small.

  5. Community members, myself included, are appreciative of all the time that has been spent on this project so far. I am sure meeting participants don’t want anyone to tally the hours! Staff I spoke to are, not only appreciative but, excited about the opportunity to work in a new school.

    However, I think we all want the best space for the amount of money we are spending and that is the purpose of this article. It is far better to point out concerns and ask questions now than have regrets later.

    Did anyone notice on the provided timeline, (link at end of article) that on February 13, of this year, the school board established a Campus Coordinating Committee. According to the city website the “Committee will meet regularly with staff and consultants during the design phase (November 2017 – June 2019) to ensure that design decisions, scheduling decisions, and financial decisions for both the school and future economic development are made in a coordinated fashion.” Agendas and minutes are posted. This was a great idea!

    However, of equal importance is the core of this campus — our school.

    My question is:

    Where are the similar committees, including members of the community and parents of course, to “ensure that design and financial decisions associated with design proposals for the academic spaces within the school are consistent with our needs, trends and changes forecasted for those subjects areas, reasonable community expectations, promises made, and available resources” ? I would think it would be paramount to have committees focused, for example on the following areas:

    Science, Math and Engineering
    English
    Art and the Performing Arts
    Students with Disabilities
    Athletics (and the academic fields associated with athletics such as Athletic Training)
    Just to name a few.

    These committees would discuss issues such as: What will high school science labs look like in 15 years? What does a theater built for the next 50 years include? The concerns the community has with the auditorium could be ironed before we start to dig.

    With a growing percentage of students (close to one in four now at Mason,) with some disability and the changing profiles of the students we serve, what considerations and new information should be considered as we design this space? For example, so much is now known about how Art and Music positively influence performance and outcomes for these students especially and so are we including more classroom spaces within these academic areas for use by the students? What committee, to include highly experienced parents of students with disabilities, is considering current research, discussing these issues and reviewing applicable specifications for the school and specific spaces? Since statistically, these students cost more to serve, what can we do now that might contribute to improved outcomes and lower costs?

    If we have these committees, where can we find the minutes posted, findings and feedback, and if we don’t have them, can they be formed to ensure we design a school that meets the needs of our growing community in the years to come?

    Promises were made to the community about the performing arts space specifically and so many seats with a restricted view, no side aisle for ease of egress and no corridor (that I can see) behind the theater space just does not meet our expectations for what $120 million should buy us. Let’s get this right!

    1. I think all the design is being done by the Gilbane and oversight by Noonan. I don’t think the design team has time to discuss a whole lot of changes because they are under a strict timeline. Also, they will try to design some parts of the school very cheaply to keep it within budget.

  6. I also believe it would be very helpful to hear more specific language used when describing this space to the community. More specificity than vague words and phrases like “some rigging” and “way superior” would help the community understand what it is we are actually buying. Can we see a materials list so we can assess what we are buying? What is this screen set technology (specifically) and how much does that cost? Maintenance? Specifics please (posted on the school website so it can easily be found) Does it require no trained supervisors? I ask because trained supervisor is on the list of cons for the full fly rigging so please list that this will require no trained supervisor and no new hires to run this.

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