Berkeley High breathes easier with opening of new building


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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  • PorcelinaGrout


  • Hyper_lexic

    this looks wonderful. the old gym building was dank and run down even back in the 80’s, I can just imagine what it was like this decade – this looks much more usable.

  • supersickandtired

    Too bad its not for Berkeley kids…might as well call it east bay high!

  • Bill N

    Well I know at least one kid from Berkeley on the HS basket ball team.

  • Matt

    What are you talking about? There are 15 classrooms teaching foreign language and one of the small learning communities finally got to move out of the A building into decent classrooms. Are you saying that there are no kids in Berkeley? It is most definitely for Berkeley kids.

  • guest

    They’re talking about the large number (up to 10-15% by some counts) of out-of-district students fraudulently enrolled at BHS.

  • deep_berkeley

    Small detail Tracey…the school campus is roughly 17 acres, not “one city block”….Campus is betwen MLK and Miliva, and runs from Allston Way, Kitredge, Bancroft, Durant and Miliva…several blocks long. Congrats though on finishing a great project!

  • Antonio Noguerra

    How many do you know who are not from Berkeley?

  • Adrian Reynolds

    I was there in the Dark Ages between ’86-’90…the new buildings look nice…go Jackets…

  • old gym alum

    Nice article. I hope students / community respect the building (i.e. graffitti, trash) and that the school district has enough preventative maintenance funding in place for future fixes.

  • You’re right of course. I have fixed that sentence. Thanks for your eagle eye!

  • George Beier

    Nice light-filled spaces. Kudos to the designer/architect.

  • theDeer

    So, will all the BHS students get to have PE now?

  • Cammy

    Yes, this is true. And no one will do anything about it. BUSD is not Albany.

  • EBGuy

    Thanks for taking one for the team. You folks at Washington are awesome. Couldn’t do it without you.

  • EBGuy

    A sincere thanks to all the folks who voted for Measure I.

  • Endthebasp

    A proud moment for Berkeley High and all you want to do is crusade to eliminate alleged non-Berkeley residents?

    [The comment has been moderated. –Eds.]

  • supersickandtired

    Then no one should complain there’s no funding for garden and cooking classes.

  • supersickandtired

    10% plus

  • guest

    I hope they are required to.

  • TY

    Nice….. Building C is now the odd-building out
    . It’s time is coming……..

  • Been There

    As a BHS Class of ’78 grad, I say that campus looks just fantastic nowadays! But I question Principal Scuderi’s remark, that the new facility will help keep kids on campus at lunch. I say to the incoming interim principal: Be the adult who finally admits that 14-18 years olds are better served by staying on campus at lunch. It’s not rocket science: find a way to feed your student body on campus, tell your security guards to pull their pants up, and start enforcing some boundaries. Imagine all the students, in classroom after lunch…imagine the bottom line for per-period ADA attendance.