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Tree cutting for MAHS Fine Arts Center

Original post made by WhoRUpeople, another community, on Jun 10, 2009

In past posts I have been quite critical of the architectural merits of the new Fine Arts Center at MAHS. My apologies to the architect. Now that the trees have been cut down so that the entire building is fully in view from Middlefield, I must admit it is not an unattractive building. That having been said, I would like to ask anyone who might know, how-better asked, why-did all those trees get approved for removal? And, what reviewing body had purview over the decision? I recall the original renderings of the finished project showed the building, lit up at night, reflected through the now absent grove of trees. To me, this is yet one more example of the "bait & switch" approach (originally a copper-clad roof) the school district took with this entire project. Also, while I'm asking questions of anyone in the know, what ever came out of the traffic study the district agreed to conduct as part of the agreement on Atherton's part to drop their suit to stop this project?

Comments (6)

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 10, 2009 at 2:05 pm

One thing I don't quite understand: why that color?

Maybe the beige is intended to coordinate the theater with the other buildings on the campus. But, as the WhoRUpeople says, this building was supposed to be a gem, something apart. With a copper roof, it would have been, that's for sure.

That beige seems to me like a coat of primer that someone forgot to cover with the intended exterior paint. A nice Golden Gate Bridge rust would be perfect, or maybe dark green to offset the roof.

As it is, with the low roof the same color as the walls, it becomes one indistinguishable mass. It's just squatting there. If it's got inherent beauty and charm, the school should do something to bring those qualities out before the project ends.

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Posted by Tom
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2009 at 11:21 am

Joe, your description of what should have been is quite close to the original artist rendering of the architects original design. See web link at I read somewhere, I think it may have been in an Almanac article, that the copper cladding and some of the other architectural features were scrapped during subsequent "value engineering" efforts to cut costs after the project got into budget trouble, but I have no idea what reviewing body approved the changes. I do know it wasn't either the Menlo Park or Atherton Planning Commissions. WhoRUpeople's reference to "bait and switch" is spot on.

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Posted by Lolly
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Jun 15, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Schools only answer to the district's school board and to the state DSA when it comes to building projects. Tom is right, Atherton and Menlo Park have no real jurisdiction over the project, and certainly no say over architectural details or tree removal.

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Posted by copper comment
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2009 at 11:11 am

The copper roof may have been eliminated for environmental reasons...many cities are now banning copper flashing, gutters, etc. due to the contaminates that would run off into the ground water or bay.

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Posted by D. Copperfield
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Jun 16, 2009 at 11:15 am

About time someone started thinking about the unattractive contaminants that come from all of that pretty copper!

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Posted by my observation
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 23, 2009 at 6:44 pm

You can like or hate this new structure, but one fact is starkly clear.

The building is much too large for the limited site size it occupies. It should have never been approved.

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