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Earlier this month, with little fanfare, Berkeley High students began using a brand new building on the east side of campus, part of a $46 million new construction project, which gives the school new classrooms, a new gym, a weight room, as well as a multi-purpose space for gatherings and events.

Take a tour of the new Berkeley High facilities in the slideshow above. Hover over photos for captions. Photography by Pete Rosos.

With the opening of Building M, it’s also time to say goodbye to the decades-old portable classrooms that have most recently been used to teach world languages, and say hello to two new basketball courts, an independent storage facility, and new landscaped outdoor space. By late August, construction on what’s known as the South of Bancroft Project will be complete with a newly laid softball field, ready for use by late November.

Rendering of the South of Bancroft project. Building M is on the bottom right. Image: Baker Vila Architects
Rendering of the South of Bancroft project. Building M is on the bottom right, on the Milvia Street side of campus. Image: Baker Vilar Architects

Berkeley High School began work on the whole project, designed by Baker Vilar Architects, in an earlier plan with the construction of the Jacket Gym, a regulation size swimming pool, and a dance studio which opened in 2004.

Berkeley High Principal Pasquale Scuderi said the new building and adjacent spaces give the school which more breathing room and they have been welcomed by staff and students. The school accommodates 3,200 students on just 17 acres.

Two floors of gleaming new classrooms are being used for world language teaching which has migrated from the portables, and four classrooms have been taken over by Arts and Humanities Academy (AHA) teachers, who were previously housed in Building A which has poor climate control, Scuderi said. That building will now be given over to music rooms, rehearsal space, and art classes.

Scuderi sees an additional advantage to the project, particularly the new outdoor spaces like the basketball courts. “It will be a bonus if it keeps more students on campus during lunch,” he said.

Building M replaced the “Old Gym,”a landmarked building originally designed by William Hays which was demolished in 2012. There were some who argued the 1922 building should have been saved and rehabilitated.

BUSD is planning an opening celebration and community tour of the new project and it will likely take place in October.

BHS construction back on track after asbestos discovery (06.21.13)
Historic Berkeley High Old Gym makes way for the new (06.28.12)
A funeral for a much loved Berkeley swimming pool (12.15.11)
BUSD addresses concerns over BHS campus construction (10.24.11)
Closure of BHS gym rattles athletes, angers parents (10.07.11)
City supports public education with Measures H and I (11.03.10)
Saving Berkeley High’s Old Gymnasium: A proposal (01.19.10)

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...