Merced’s Weaver Middle School to receive a multimillion-dollar makeover

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comSeptember 29, 2013 

In several years, Weaver Middle School will take on a decidedly different look.

Weaver Union School District trustees met last week with San Jose-based architect Paul Bunton, who will be designing a new office, library-media center and two adjoining classroom wings at the middle school. Bunton’s firm designed El Capitan High School in north Merced.

“It’s going to change the entire curb appeal of the middle school,” said John Curry, district superintendent. “It will be a much-needed face-lift.”

The new Learning Commons is angled to face the corner of Childs Avenue and Coffee Street. An arched building, curved walkways and landscaping will change the appearance of the 1940s-era campus. Twelve classrooms will be incorporated into two new buildings, which will replace portable units.

Bunton said the option favored by trustees has an open feel that invites the community into the school across a public plaza.

“Through the strategic placement of the Learning Commons at the intersection of Childs and Coffee, the school can now have a ‘gateway’ entry that announces Weaver Middle School to the public,” Bunton said. “The architectural expression is a contemporary mission style that is intended to create a new identity to the existing campus while blending into the existing architecture of the past eras.”

The Weaver Middle School campus was built 66 years ago, and Bunton said the board made a wise and fiscally prudent decision to proceed with a hybrid of “stick-built” construction for the Learning Commons and prefabricated construction for the classroom wings.

The school renovations, when finished, will be a striking addition to the community, Bunton said.

Trustee Jennifer Bertuccio said she would like to see the district get the most out of limited funding and build what is best for the students. District residents approved a bond issue in November that will supplement expected hardship funds from the state.

Curry said the goal is to send the architectural plans to the state Department of Education in February.

Bunton said the Learning Commons is envisioned as a 21st century learning environment, a reinterpretation of a library where students can collaborate in small groups. Bookshelves are on casters and can be moved to allow for larger group gatherings, with multiple configurations possible for academic and community uses.

Sun-Star staff writer Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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