Completed campus athletic center opens for new school year


Tiffany Wong

Construction for the athletics center began last June and continued until this July. The campus’ performing arts center is expected to be finished in January 2018 and open to student use in March 2018.

by Tiffany Wong, Aquila News Editor

After a wait of a little over a year following the upper school’s 2016 spring groundbreaking ceremony for the campus’ construction projects, the completed athletics center finally opens its doors to student and faculty use for the 2017-2018 school year.

The facility, which recently cleared the U.S. Green Building Council’s first round of inspections for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, includes sports courts, locker rooms, team rooms and athletic offices. The entry level includes multipurpose and fitness spaces with danceable floors for Pilates, yoga and other similar activities. Also housed in the center are three pools for physical therapy purposes: two connected plunge pools at different temperatures and one hydrotherapy pool similar in function to an underwater treadmill.

A walkway underground leads to two courts, both illuminated by sunlight from large windows, that can be used for either basketball or volleyball. The bleachers on this floor, which face a projection screen, can seat at most around 900 spectators.

“[The gym] is a two-story building, but it only has one story above ground when you look at it,” buildings architect Bill Bondy said. “When you’re standing on the court, you can see all the way above and across the lobby to outdoors, so you don’t feel like you’re in a basement.”

Nicole Chen
The new athletics center has two floors on the basement and ground levels. Construction for the gymnasium began in early May of the 2015-2016 school year.

Construction for the athletics center began last June and continued until this July. Before beginning the building process, Harker submitted the blueprints for both the athletics and performing arts centers to the San Jose City Hall Permit Center to be approved by the City of San Jose. Although everything went according to plan for the majority of construction, workers faced some challenges in weather.

“We dug into the ground and had two big concrete basements that turned into bathtubs, and every time it rained we had to have pumps and vacuums. The guys were struggling,” Facility Director Mike Bassoni said. “We had to put a lot of extra drain rock all around the building to that people weren’t tracking mud. You can get fined if, during construction, the trucks are carrying mud off the property. The gymnasium was delayed by almost a month because of rain, and the theater is probably delayed by about three weeks because of rain.”

The Board of Trustees and the upper school’s athletic department invited members of the Harker community to attend the center’s opening ceremony on Aug. 18, around two weeks after the facility became available to athletes participating in fall sports’ summer practices. Keynote speakers at the event included Chair of the Board of Trustees Diane Nichols, Head of School Brian Yager, Bassoni and Athletic Directors Dan Molin and Theresa “Smitty” Smith.

“Having a gymnasium on campus, it’ll be very tangible. You’ll notice more school spirit: people will rally around gymnasium events,” Molin said. “It’s obviously very convenient now that it’s going to be on our campus, and it’s just going to bring about a whole new level of excitement.”

Nicole Chen
Head of the Board of Trustees Diane Nichols addresses Athletic Director Dan Molin during the new athletic center’s opening ceremony. Speakers at the event included both Nichols and Molin as well as Head of School Brian Yager, Facility Director Mike Bassoni and Athletic Director Theresa (Smitty) Smith.

Cars dropping off students will now travel behind Nichols Hall, along the wall separating campus from the Junipero Serra Freeway. Students still will not be able to park on campus until the completion of the performing arts center, which will be finished next January and open to student use in March. The facility, which is currently around 75 percent complete and also in the process of being awarded LEED Gold certification by the Building Council, will house a chorus presentation by the upper school’s vocal performance groups in February and a ribbon cutting ceremony in March. 

The upper school will hold its first of the year’s many school meetings in the new gymnasium tomorrow morning.

Correction: August 29, 2017

A previous version of this article stated that the athletics center had been certified LEED Gold before the start of the 2017-2018 school year. Both the athletics center and the performing arts center are currently in the process of receiving LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.