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Update on The New Performing Arts Center

Photo+courtesy+of+Alex+Perez.
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Update on The New Performing Arts Center

Photo courtesy of Alex Perez.

Photo courtesy of Alex Perez.

Photo courtesy of Alex Perez.

Photo courtesy of Alex Perez.

Adley Vogel, Staff Writer

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After nearly a decade of planning, construction of the Spieker Center for the Performing Arts is scheduled to begin on Friday June 7th, the day after the 2019 Upper School Commencement. The Spieker Center is designed to be “a cultural hub” that will become “the heart of campus” and showcase Menlo talent and creativity in all forms, according to a Menlo School brochure. While construction will not begin until the end of the year, the demolition of the dance room, Mandarin classrooms, campus bookstore and several administrative offices will begin on March 25th and take place over spring break.

“We’re really super excited about this going forward,” Communications Director Alex Perez said. “This is tremendous for the school: a pivotal moment.” The Spieker Center will be a 40,000-square-foot building located in between the CADC and college counseling. Its main feature, a 400 seat auditorium, will have a 40 foot wide stage, an orchestra pit that can drop into the floor, a state-of-the-art tech booth, a green room, a scenic shop, a costume shop and a recording space. The space is planned to be utilized by both the Middle and Upper Schools for any number of speakers or performances. The exterior of the Spieker Center will have an outdoor gallery and a sports walkway to Wunderlich field. “It’s really exciting,” freshman Tucker Gold said. “I think FloMo was fun and good, but we can definitely use an upgrade, and I feel like its an upgrade kind of long overdue.”

Florence Moore hall, or FloMo, has been the Menlo upper school’s performing arts stage for decades. It was originally a Menlo College lecture hall, but Menlo School took it over and converted it into what was planned to be a temporary performing space. But, ever since the conversion, FloMo has housed Menlo theatre and dance. However it lacks many features of a modern performing space, such as adequate room on the wings of the stage and accessible dressing rooms for performers. The Spieker Center will amend these issues, as well as many more.

As a part of this construction, existing sections of the CADC will be overhauled to create new spaces for the arts. “With this change, all of our arts programs will really be under one roof,” Perez said. The jazz band and chorus programs will be merged into one room, and what is currently the chorus room will become a brand new, permanent dance studio. “There will be mirrors, ballet bars, video equipment and a sprung wood floor, which is really cool,” dance teacher Jan Chandler said. “With this new [performing arts center], I think we’re [going to]  call back every dancer and theatre person we ever had. It’s just that exciting.”

The campus bookstore is currently located in the Tech Center, and the Mandarin classroom has been relocated to the gym, although it’s unclear if this change is temporary or if the Mandarin program will be getting a new, permanent home.

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