Planners reject joint library at new school

Team working to shrink Valley high school's auditorium and gym

Posted: Friday, December 10, 2004

Planners of the Dimond Park high school decided Thursday not to combine a public library with the school library.

And they are looking at options for reducing the school's auditorium and gyms to meet the size of the smaller school that voters approved in October.

The planning team of Juneau Assembly and Juneau School Board members, meeting in the Assembly chambers, agreed with city staff that trying to combine a public library and a school library would set back efforts to complete the school by the fall of 2008.

The Assembly had asked the city to look into the feasibility of a joint library.

The new version of the school still needs to be designed. In May, voters rejected a fully designed 218,000-square-foot school for about 1,100 students, and later approved a nearly 167,000-square-foot school for 840 students.

City engineers want construction to start in spring of 2006. The site must be prepared before that, with ground work to start in the summer of 2005. Adding a joint city-school library would extend the design period, said Sarah Lewis of the city Engineering Department.

Also, funding for the public library portion of a joint facility hadn't been identified, said Deputy City Manager Donna Pierce. The city has been planning a community center at Dimond Park that would include a library as well as recreational facilities such as a swimming pool.

School options

Option A

Auditorium seating: 420. Main gym seating: 1,200. Auxiliary gym size: 4,100 square feet.

Option B

Auditorium seating: 285. Main gym seating: 1,400. Auxiliary gym size: 4,100 square feet.

Option C

Auditeria with commons seating: 600. Main gym seating: 1,600. Auxiliary gym size: 6,250 square feet.

Option D

Auditorium seating: 420. Main gym seating: 1,600. Auxiliary gym: None.

It wasn't clear whether the two uses, by the general public and students, would work well together. Public library director Barbara Berg said in a memo that the missions of public and school libraries differ. It could take months to plan such a library, she said.

School planners also considered, but did not vote on, several options to downsize the original design. They will meet at noon Dec. 17 at the downtown fire hall, and may vote then.

The new design would include fewer classrooms, and spaces such as the library and guidance offices would be smaller. But the most significant saving in space will come from changes to the auditorium and the gyms.

Architect Paul Voelckers of the Juneau firm Minch Ritter Voelckers presented planners with four options. Three included auditoriums that seated 285 or 400 people. One option was for a commons that has a stage at one end and fold-up bleachers at the other. Those are called auditerias.

Three options included an auxiliary gym. Choices for the main gym ranged from seating for 1,200 to 1,600 spectators.

Options for an auditeria, or for killing the auxiliary gym, allowed for the largest main gym. But some planners had doubts about the usefulness of a hybrid auditorium and commons.

Tools built for one purpose work better than tools built for two purposes, Assembly member Jeff Bush said.

An auditeria might not have a backstage or fly loft, to hang scenery, and its lighting and acoustics wouldn't be as good as in as an auditorium, Voelckers said.

• Eric Fry can be reached at

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