Construction At SPMS Old Gym On Track

Construction workers remove 100-year-old wood panels from the exterior of the old gymnasium on Dec. 12. The panels soon will be replaced with siding. Photos by Skye Hannah

Construction is on schedule for the repurposing of the old gymnasium at South Pasadena Middle School, as these photos show.

The approximately $14 million project is expected to be completed in August, according to school officials. The project is one of several around the district paid for by the Measure SP bond.

“We’ve been fortunate that there haven’t been any delays in the weather,’’ Superintendent Geoff Yantz told the Review.

The old gym’s interior space will be transformed into a visual and performing arts black-box theater, an arts room and a flex lab for science and engineering. The theater space will host the dance class, drama program, after-school programs with the South Pasadena Educational Foundation and musical gatherings. A new atrium entrance with skylights will also be added, along with a new entry on the west side to better connect to the campus.

According to Yantz, the Balfour Beatty construction crew is currently at the point of “demo and replace,’’ in which parts of the 100-year-old building are being removed and replaced with newer material. Many of the wood panels covering the exterior of the building show signs of rot and decay, he said. Crews are delicately removing each one and will soon begin to replace them with solid sheeting.

The Division of State Architects had deemed the original building as having no structural integrity at all, so the last few months have involved improving the stability of the walls and foundation.  

“They’re having to replace the entire footing that goes in between the cement foundation and the actual wood frame that goes up,’’ said Yantz. 

The concrete walls are also being reinforced with metal rebar and being prepared to have shotcrete, or sprayed concrete, applied to thicken them, adding seismic stability as well.    

The installation of exterior electrical conduits have been completed and the crew is currently digging a new sewer line at the front of the building, Yantz said.

“This is a very complex project, trying to maintain the historical integrity of the building,’’ said Yantz. “It’s going to take a long time to do, and that’s why it’s really a 16-month construction process. It’ll be beautiful when it’s done.’’ 

Voters in South Pasadena passed Measure SP in November 2016 by a 3-1 margin. The measure provides funds for campus improvements at all five of SPUSD’s schools.

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Skye Hannah is a senior reporter for the South Pasadena Review and the San Marino Tribune, covering education, government, sports, features and civic issues. Skye previously served as an award-winning senior staff photojournalist and staff writer for five years for the Rome News-Tribune in Rome, Georgia. You can contact Skye with news tips and feedback at / Twitter @SkyeHannahCA