Mon07282014

Let's reflect innovative spirit in community spaces: Other Voices

Following is an open letter to the Los Altos City Council.

As you begin your efforts to revisit the Los Altos Community Center redesign and upgrade, we encourage you to consider working with the Los Altos School District to develop a joint-use school/civic space. There are a number of growing examples of such spaces and a growing area of research on how they can benefit both organizations. We suggest some of the following resources that may influence your opinion.

First is a study of a multitude of joint-use spaces and projects throughout California conducted by the Center for Cities and Schools at UC Berkeley: citiesandschools.berkeley.edu/reports/Partnerships_JU_Aug2010.pdf.

Some of the projects that could directly correlate to Los Altos are libraries, auditoriums and indoor and outdoor recreation spaces. Many of the benefits for both parties are related to bonding efforts, construction costs and maintenance costs. Additionally, are you aware that such projects qualify for special state construction grants?

Another is a joint 96,000-square-foot elementary school/community center built for approximately $10 million in Paris, Tenn.: tinyurl.com/pariscivicdesign and tinyurl.com/parisciviccenter.

You can see that the single facility includes an auditorium, indoor pool, gymnasium with elevated lap walkway, 24 classrooms, media center/library, computer room, meeting rooms, offices and joint reception area with separate and monitored entrances to the various facilities for security reasons. Many of the spaces they included correlate to civic needs in Los Altos that we are trying to meet with multiple buildings on the same or different sites. This particular design is a single-story profile building with elevated ceilings, so a similar design here could have a minimal impact on surrounding neighbors.

In addition, places like One Workplace (oneworkplace.com), which has designed interiors for Google Inc. and Apple Inc., and HMFH Architects (hmfh.com/Home.aspx), which has designed colorful and thoughtful interior education, community and joint spaces in the Northeast, are also available as resources. Perhaps they would be willing to partner with the city council and school district to prototype new joint civic/education space ideas, at minimal cost to the city.

We hope that you will consider these resources and think carefully about the potential legacy a joint-use community center project could present to our community. Our community is located so close to on-the-cusp technology and innovative products and services. Let’s reflect that spirit in our local community spaces.

Submitted by Jennifer Carlstrom of Los Altos Hills, with 23 co-signers.

Anjana Nagarajan-Butaney, Los Altos

Cameron Hamblin, Los Altos

Dita Gratzinger, Mountain View

Elena Shea, Los Altos

Freya Hooper, Los Altos

Jeff Fixler, Mountain View

Jennifer Carlstrom, Los Altos Hills

Jennifer Denebeim, Los Altos

Jessica Speiser, Los Altos

Jim Cairns, Los Altos

Kathleen Vitakis, Los Altos

Kristine Bardman, Los Altos

Laura Orella, Los Altos Hills

Marcia Chmyz, Los Altos

Mark Boennighausen, Los Altos

Michelle Sturiale, Los Altos

Molly Black, Los Altos

Natalie Elefant, Los Altos

Noah Mesel, Los Altos

Rajesh Manglore, Palo Alto

Ray Felts, Los Altos

Sharon Clay, Los Altos

Sue Boennighausen, Los Altos

Suzanne Kasso, Los Altos

Tara Dhillon, Los Altos Hills

Tara Felts, Los Altos

Tom Fenstermacher, Los Altos

Valerie Cairns, Los Altos

Vladimir Ivanovic, Los Altos

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