The reconstruction effort

NORTH GLENDALE — Renovations at Hoover High School that were delayed by almost a month were caused by structural flaws that forced officials to change plans for connecting two quads, said John Fenton, the Glendale Unified School District’s administrator of planning, development and facilities.

Officials don’t know the added cost of the 25-day delay last fall that resulted in a new approach to the centerpiece of the $17-million Hoover renovation, but it will be significant, Fenton said.

The delays were related to plans to transform a second-floor quad into a terraced area that would lead under a current walkway to a first-floor quad, Fenton said.

The separate outdoor areas, on different levels and disconnected by a maze of stairs and hallways, once divided the campus, and officials hope to connect the quads through an opening under the current second-floor walkway, which will turn into a bridge when construction is completed, Hoover Principal Kevin Welsh said.

“They didn’t want to see a caste-system quad,” Welsh said of the school board’s hopes that divisions between cliques at the school would be changed with the new design. “They wanted to see a joined quad, where people are united and together.”

But to get to that point, construction workers had to excavate the second-floor quad, digging to make the new terraced area level with the first floor. In the process, they unveiled a row of five 15-foot columns underground beneath the walkway, planning to reinforce two of them as bracketing linchpins to support the soon-to-be bridge.

As workers were digging, officials noticed that one of the vital columns for the new project was three feet shorter than the rest, Fenton said. The crews ended up rebuilding the column completely.

“It would have been hanging in midair,” he said.

The inconsistency did not appear on any of the architectural drawings and wasn’t the only unexpected condition that construction workers were faced with, Fenton said, adding that an obscured pair of 4-inch-thick panels were also below the walkway.

The surprises forced Fenton to confer with structural engineers about a solution for the short column, which they eventually were able to rebuild at the correct height, he said.

Along with another column on the other end of the 30-foot-wide bridge area, the two massive reinforced structures will eventually support the weight of the two stories of walkways and classrooms that stand above them in the school’s main building.

Although significant, discrepancies in building drawings and structures aren’t uncommon when dealing with school facilities, particularly like those at Hoover, some of which are more than 40 years old, Fenton said.

“Unfortunately, building drawings are only as good as the people who put them together,” he said.

Officials altered the plans for construction and continued work without going before the Board of Education for approval of the additional costs associated with the project, because it was a vital part of the construction and would have been most easily solved by Fenton and the engineers working on the project, said Linda Junge, the district’s public information officer.

“It’s sort of not much of an option,” Junge said.

“You have to make things gel, and I’m sure it would be most cost-effective for us, instead of making architectural alterings in places, to go ahead and kind of do what we need to do to get things working.”

Welsh had originally expected the project to be done in June, but said he wouldn’t be surprised now if crews were delayed until October.


 ZAIN SHAUK covers education. He may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at zain.shauk@latimes.com.

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