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New $55 Million “Innovation” Building to be Publicly Unveiled at Santa Monica High School

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Lookout Staff

September 9, 2015 -- The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) is publically unveiling its new $55 million, 97,000-square-foot Innovation Building at Santa Monica High School on Thursday.

Funding for the new science and technology center comes from Measure BB, a $268 million bond approved by voters in 2006 to pay for modernizing the district’s Santa Monica and Malibu campuses.

The new technology and science building houses 36 new classrooms, including 15 science labs, 18 “home” classrooms, two special education classrooms and a computer lab, plus an auto shop and administrative offices.

The district is holding grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremonies Thursday at 6 p.m., before the start of Back to School Night at Samohi, at 601 Pico Boulevard. Tours also will be conducted.

District officials are “extremely excited” to see the opening of the new center “and appreciative of the community’s support,” said SMMUSD spokeswoman Gail Pinsker.

“The Innovation Building represents a model of what 21st century classrooms and science labs should be,” she said.

The facility includes the latest interactive boards and projectors, and a wide array of tools that include microscopes, computers and other equipment, she said.

The Innovation Building replaces the old Samohi technology building and is part of the overall modernization of the high school. The old building – constructed in 1952 – will be demolished to make room for a softball field and parking lot.

Outdoor improvements include reconfiguring the current parking lot while retaining the current 191 spaces, and building a new 6th street vehicular ramp to access the lot and a new bicycle parking area. The softball field will be relocated adjacent to the new Science and Technology Building. 

The Centennial Plaza, built in conjunction with the new Science and Technology Building, is meant to provide a gathering space for students during lunch, recess hours, and school events, District officials said. It includes improved day lighting, indoor air quality and natural ventilation, reduced water use and maximized energy efficiency.

Construction began in December 2011.  Classes started in the new building when school opened August 20, Pinsker said.

As part of an ongoing controversy over toxic substances involving the  district’s Malibu campuses, materials from the old technology building were tested over the summer and not found to exceed the Toxic Substance Control Act threshold of 50 parts per million, according to district officials.

Improvements have been made throughout the district for the beginning of the new school year using Measure BB funding, as well as the proceeds from Measure ES, a $385 bond passed in 2012 and also earmarked for SMMUSD school improvements.

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