With the school year wrapping up, it’s full steam ahead for the Miami Palmetto Senior High School construction and renovation project. Two new three-story buildings are already in place in the southeast corner of the campus. Phase one of the project also calls for the media center to be completely upgraded and renovated.
The project is split into three parts with phase one the most impressive given that it adds the most square footage.
Jose Valdes, the construction superintendent, toured me around the new buildings. “These are classroom buildings and the administration offices are here too,” explained Valdes as he points to framed out spaces.
“The roof is finished on 1-B and we are nearly topped on Building 1-A. Inside, studs and HVAC ducts are up for the rooms.”
In between the new buildings is a bridged area that will serve as the main entry point. The new entrance faces SW 120th Street, removing significant traffic from SW 118th Street.
“We are very pleased with the progress,” said HS Principal Victoria Dobbs. “They have kept to their timeline which means we’ll be running classes in the new buildings when the students come back from winter break.”
You can feel the energy and pride on the Zyscovich/Thornton construction site. There’s even an Easter egg hidden on a column in building 1-B. “Nearly 40 people from the school district and the construction company wanted to leave their mark here,” explained Valdes as he unscrewed the wooden cover to reveal the names. “We will also place a time capsule here when the campus construction is complete,” added Dobbs.
“The big thing this summer is to dismantle the current chiller and build a brand-new chiller plant that can handle cooling for the whole much larger campus,” explained Valdes. The project has also miles of buried conduit to run data between all the buildings that will provide high-speed Internet, security and fire safety improvements to all buildings.
The conduit is mostly in place, but the final connections will happen this summer when they'll have access to break up the concrete walkways that students use to get to classes.
“The final campus is designed to unify our school,” Principal Dobbs explained. “What was surprising is that as the construction kind of squeezed our campus and we were all working in tighter spaces, the students and teachers really responded. We are already feeling a cohesive and better bond to each other.”
Phase two, which begins in spring 2020, will see the demolition of the north campus along SW 118th Street. “The old two-story buildings will be demolished and replaced with one-story structures that are set back further from the street,” explained Zyscovich Architect’s Jose Murguido. “This will enhance student life and lesson the neighborhood impact on homeowners on that street.” Phase two also includes building an enclosed courtyard with a black box theater. “It will allow for students to have an outdoor theater, but also has a special door to convert to a stage environment as well.”
Phase three is updating the existing buildings and putting in new furniture and fixtures. Completion is slated for 2021.
In the end, the 120,900 square-feet of new construction will add capacity for only 90 more students, but the number of classrooms goes up and the educational environment is significantly improved.
You can look back at my story about the overall project here: https://www.miamihal.com/hals-blog/2017/12/12/the-new-miami-palmetto-senior-high-is-coming