NorCal High School Presses Forward on New Student Union

By Eric Althoff

HOLLISTER, Calif.—General contractor Blach Construction is hard at work on a new hub for student activity at San Benito High School District’s (SBHSD) Hollister High School, the tenth-largest high school in Northern California. When completed, the Student Union Building will serve as a public meeting space for nearly 4,000 students at the school, as well as offer amenities such as expanded food service capacity for the rapidly increasing student population, which is only 65 percent served via the school’s current facilities.

As designed by Aedis Architects, the 8,500-square-foot student union will be made of steel to ensure its durability. The steel design will also speed up the project buildout timeline and reduce construction costs.

The student union will be located at the heart of the school’s campus, thereby ensuring its prominent placement. Its completion will also help ensure that more than 90 percent of the student body will be provided with meals.

The recent groundbreaking for the new building was attended by personnel from SBHSD, as well as Speaker of the California State Assembly Robert Rivas, himself an alumnus of the district.

“We have enjoyed a trusted and collaborative partnership with San Benito High School District, delivering many innovative projects alongside Aedis for the betterment of Hollister High School and its surrounding community,” Blach Project Executive Brad Fannin said at the groundbreaking. “Building the new Student Union Building is particularly gratifying as it will enable all students to thrive at school, offering greater access to improved food service offerings and central gathering spaces.”

In a subsequent statement to School Construction News, Fannin said that the net-zero-ready campus is complemented with an adjacent main thoroughfare as well as placing utilities underground so as to be more welcoming and more congruent with the newer student union facility.

“This complex scenario requires high-level coordination with the local utilities, ultimately allowing the college to avoid the use of natural gas in its operation and saving the district critical funds,” Fannin said. “Gavilan’s new campus in Hollister will be well-situated to offset its energy usage with a solar array or other renewable energy system.”

The project is partially funded by the state and is expected to be ready for this fall. Blach and Aedis previously delivered a Science and Robotics Lab for the HHS campus, as well as several athletic facilities and a visual arts performance building too.

“Our new Student Union is a marquee project for the community that will further enhance our Hollister High School campus and, more importantly, positively impact the needs of our expanding student body,” SBHSD Superintendent Shawn Tennenbaum said of the work. “Once complete, it will offer students new and centralized areas to meet, collaborate and study while enabling us to increase our crucial food service offerings.”

Blach Construction was founded in 1970, and its work in educational construction is well known throughout the Golden State.