The Cubberley Co-Design Process is an opportunity for the Palo Alto community to envision a new future for this valuable community asset. The Palo Alto Unified School District and the City of Palo Alto are jointly inviting you to participate in this exciting process. Through four iterative community meetings and corresponding online engagement, the Palo Alto community will help shape a master plan for the Cubberley site.
Our next co-design meeting is Thursday, January 24th at 7-9 p.m. at the Cubberley Community Center Pavilion. Please RSVP on Eventbrite here!
The first two of four meetings were held at the Cubberley Pavilion on September 27th and November 1st. Over 240 community members attended the first meeting and 118 attended the second. At these meetings, residents addressed both programming and site design preferences. At each meeting, community members participated in two interactive exercises to provide their ideas for the future of the site.
Other Content from the meetings:
Cubberley is a 35-acre site at 4000 Middlefield Road. It is the last, largest piece of publicly-owned land in the City that has a near-term opportunity for redevelopment for community benefit. The Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) owns 27 acres of the site, and the rest is owned by the City of Palo Alto. Cubberley is adjacent to two residential neighborhoods: Greenmeadow and Charleston Gardens. The site is near Mitchell Park and contiguous with two other School District properties: Greendell and 525 San Antonio Road.
The site was home to Cubberley High School from 1956 to 1979, when it closed due to declined school enrollment. In 1990, the site reopened as Cubberley Community Center. The City operates Cubberley through a lease agreement with PAUSD. The Center is home to over thirty long-term tenants and provides hourly rental space for special events. The programs at the site include daycare, early childhood education, artist studios, dance studios, language classes, after school programs, martial arts, sports, senior services, health services, and many other programs. These service-providers depend on Cubberley for its affordable rents and the benefits of having other community programs and rentable spaces nearby.
Long Term Tenants:
Acme Education Center, Art of Living, Artist’s Studios, Avenidas, BrainVyne, California Law Revision, California Pops Orchestra, Cardiac Therapy/Heart for Life, Children’s Preschool Center, Chinese for Christ, City of Palo Alto - OES, Dance Connection, Dance Magic, Dance Visions, Friends of the Palo Alto Library, Genius Kids, Good Neighbor Montessori, Hua Kuang Chinese Reading Room, Palo Alto Historical Association, Palo Alto Humane Society, Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, Imagination School, Ivy Goal Education, Living Wisdom School, Make X, Melody’s Music, Minority Project, Palo Alto Soccer Club, Ranger Taekwondo, REACH, Silicon Valley Karate, Stanford Soccer Club, Zohar, and several outdoor sports groups that use the softball fields regularly.
Hourly Rental Spaces:
Auditorium, 5 Classrooms, Lecture Room, Activity Room, Music Room, 2 Meeting Rooms, 2 Dance Studios, 2 Gyms, Gym Activity Room, Pavilion, Ampitheater, Theater, fields, and tennis courts
You can learn more about Cubberley Community Center here.
Cubberley has served Palo Alto first as a school and now as a community center. Both PAUSD and the City see Cubberley as a valuable asset that will be needed in the future. For PAUSD, this is the only large site that can accommodate a full high school or large middle school if enrollment increases demand for a new school in the future. Given anticipated housing needs in Palo Alto, a new large school may be needed in the coming decades. Therefore, any plan must preserve the flexibility to house a new school on the site at a future time. The City has an interest in maintaining the vital services and programs that Cubberley provides to the community and increasing programming for greater community benefit.
Now is the time to plan for the future, because the buildings on the site are coming to an end of their functional life and the current site layout cannot accommodate both community center and school needs in the long-term. A large proportion of the site is underutilized paved areas situated between spread-out single-story buildings. By rethinking the site layout and program adjacencies, it is possible that additional uses could be added to benefit community users and future students on site. The master planning process will study multiple programmatic and physical layout options to support a comprehensive school in addition to new and improved community center facilities. The community will play a major role in this process. See the "Co-Design Process" section for more details.
We are not starting from scratch. In 2012, the Cubberley Community Advisory Committee (CCAC) studied the current conditions and the future opportunities at Cubberley. In working groups dedicated to School Needs, Community Needs, Facilities, and Finance, the committee engaged the City, the School District, and Cubberley tenants to analyze possible outcomes for the site. Their final report recommended that the best outcome would be for the City and the School District to come together to commission a master plan that accommodates the needs of the community center and a potential future school, with potential for shared-use facilities. The City and School Board have done just that. After an 8-month long Request for Proposals process, the City and School District jointly selected and hired Concordia to lead the master planning process.
The ultimate goal is to create a flexible and adaptable master plan for the Cubberley site that accommodates the short-term, medium-term, and long-term needs of PAUSD, the City, and the community at large. The master plan will illustrate future facilities on the site, demonstrating both form and function. It will include a phasing plan that will show the order of construction and demolition that will best accommodate program continuity. If successful, the School District and the City will adopt the plan and cooperate on plan implementation.
Concordia will work with the community in a “Co-Design Process.” This will entail four, iterative community meetings where community-members will work together to identify needs, propose opportunities, discuss options, and guide the master-planning process towards win-win solutions. At each meeting, participants will engage in one to two activities designed to gather pertinent information and perspectives on key project decisions. Each meeting builds on the work done at previous meetings, however; anyone can join the process at any time.
All the community meetings are scheduled for 7pm - 9pm at the Cubberley Pavilion. Online polling and other online forms of engagement will be used in concert with these meetings, but the meetings will have hands-on, discussion-based activities which cannot be fully replicated through online formats. We encourage everyone in the community to come participate in these meetings to inform the outcome of the Cubberley Master Plan. After each meeting, the project team will publish a document summarizing the feedback we received.
Prior to these meetings, Concordia has reviewed all pertinent City and School District plans, including the Comprehensive Master Plan, Parks, Trails, Natural Open Space & Recreation Master Plan, School Enrollment Committee Recommendations, and many others. They have also studied and mapped nearby assets and physical site constraints, including zoning limitations, protected trees, underground utilities, and other factors that will help inform community input at the meetings.
Meeting 1: September 27th
Meeting 1 focused on community needs and possible additional program uses on the site. A second activity at Meeting 1 will engage residents on questions related to site layout that will establish spatial preferences related to major design tradeoffs. Both of the engagement activities will inform the next steps of the planning process. The project team will synthesize the results to inform three site programming studies which will be evaluated at Meeting 2. See the meeting summary here!
Meeting 2: November 1st
At Meeting 2, the project team will present the three programming studies developed after Meeting 1 for feedback. Residents at this meeting will provide more refined input related to the overall site layout as well as program use. Following Meeting 2, the project team will synthesize community input and produce programming recommendations that will become the basis for the design phase which will begin at the start of 2019.
Meeting 3: January 24th
Meeting 3 will take place during the middle of the design process, and will gather design input on the overall site design and stylistic elements that will become recommendations in the draft master plan. Activities may include feedback on 3D massing studies and responses to precedent images of interior and exterior spaces that could be inspiration for the overall design of the buildings on site.
After Meeting 3, the project team will synthesize the feedback and use it to inform the draft master plan document.
Meeting 4: May 9th
Meeting 4 is a concluding meeting for the process. At this meeting, the project team will present the outcomes of the work and gather comments and feedback on the draft master plan. This will occur simultaneously to official public comment at School Board and City Council meetings, and various City commissions.
Final Master Plan
After the last community meeting and the comment period, the project team will revise the draft master plan accordingly to produce a final document which will guide development on the site. The master plan will include a conceptual-level design of the site, diagrams that show program and space use, a construction phasing plan, and many other details that articulate a shared future vision for the site. This document is the final product of this Co-Design process, and will become the basis for future architectural design.
What is the timeline for this process? When and where are the next meetings?
The planning process is anticipated to continue until summer of 2019. There are three community meetings left: November 1, 2018, January 24, 2019, and May 9, 2019. The November meeting will build on the programming work done at Meeting 1 and will inform overall site layout. The January meeting will focus on site design, and the May meeting will be a review of the draft plan. All of these meetings will be at the Cubberley Pavilion from 7-9 p.m.
What is the timeline for construction? How will the phased approach work?
There is no set construction timeline, because the architectural design and construction process will be contingent on funding approval from the City and/or PAUSD. When construction does begin, it will be phased to minimize impact to existing programs on the site. The first phases of construction will be replacement buildings for the community center. We are currently studying strategies to phase the construction and demolition process so programs can continue to function on site. The process may involve using temporary portable buildings on site while existing buildings are demolished and replaced. Because the School District has no immediate plans to build a new school on its lands, that phase will likely be the last phase and will not have any specific time attached to it. Prior to any future use, the space reserved for a future school will be used productively in some other way.
What is the expected cost for construction and how will it be paid for?
Once a draft program and plan is created based on community input, a professional cost-estimator will estimate construction cost for the plan. The cost-estimate will inform cost-saving measures to make the plan more cost-effective. Because the plan will be phased with roughly 50% of the plan accounting for a future school, it will not need to be paid for all at once. A funding strategy has not yet been determined.
Why is Greendell and 525 San Antonio Road not part of the master plan? Can they be added?
The Cubberley Master Planning process is focusing on the site that is currently used as Cubberley Community Center, part of which the City owns and part of which the City operates through a lease agreement with PAUSD. The adjacent 5 acre Greendell site and the 2.7 acre 525 San Antonio site are contiguous with Cubberley and are also owned by PAUSD. The planning team is giving these sites special consideration when planning changes at Cubberley. Some participants at Community Meeting 1 suggested that these sites be incorporated into the plan more fully. In consequence, the planning team is exploring this possibility with PAUSD and the City.
How high is a parking lot allowed? Can parking be built underground, or even under the fields?
Parking is subject to the same height limitations as buildings. On the Cubberley site, that means that 150’ from the perimeter of the site, parking structures can be up to 50’ tall. Underground parking was a very popular idea at Community Meeting 1. Although more expensive than above-ground parking garages, the benefit of underground parking include the ability to use the above-ground space for programs and green space. Other than cost, underground constraints include the water table and the composition of the earth that would need to be excavated. Another aspect of underground parking is that they need airflow, with around 40% of the walls ventilating to the outside. To accommodate this, some parking areas are built halfway underground. In other cases fields and programming is constructed on top of one level of surface parking, such as in this example from Massachusetts: http://www.smma.com/work/whole-new-ballgame#
How can I be a better participant in any future meetings?
Wonderful question! The first thing is to show up on time ready to engage with your neighbors in a constructive and positive way. You can also catch up on previous meeting results by reading the Meeting Summaries posted on the project website. This will help you and empower you to help inform others at your table if they missed something. You can also support your table host by offering to scribe notes and document key ideas in the conversation. If the conversation seems to be getting off topic, you can help your table host bring the discussion back to the key aspects of the activities. Be a model for sharing your perspective, and others share their perspectives by being an active listener.
How are non-profit tenants evaluated when their leases are up for renewal? Is there a performance metric of their activity? How do new tenants get in?
Tenants are selected by the City through a public Request for Proposals (RFP) process. For the most recent RFP process, staff developed a set of criteria to evaluate the proposals based on public benefit, number of residents served, proposed lease rate, application completeness, and clarity of the proposals. Cubberley activities and programs are restricted to organizations delivering public benefits.
Are slides from meeting presentation available online?
Yes, you can download the slides from the meetings in the meeting tabs on the website.
What is the history of Cubberley?
Cubberley was constructed in the 1950's as a PAUSD High School. It was closed in 1979 due to declining enrollment. In 1990, the City entered into a lease agreement to use the campus as a community center. Since that time, it has served the Palo Alto community as the Cubberley Community Center and the programs on site have become integral to the City’s network of programs and services.
What kind of school PAUSD planning to open (high/middle/elementary)? What are the School district enrollment and capacity requirements?
There are no specific plans right now regarding what kind of school will exist on the site in the future. School district enrollment is unknown in the future. Enrollment projections only look out at the next five years, so it is uncertain whether enrollment will go up or down in the long-term. The School District has limited land, and Cubberley, in conjunction with 525 San Antonio Road and Greendell School is the only conceivable location for an additional secondary school should the need ever arise. PAUSD needs to ensure that the master plan creates the ability for a new school to be built on the site in the future if and when enrollment needs demand it. While there is no clear need for a new secondary school in the coming years, there is great emphasis by both the City and Stanford University on creating more residential housing. More housing means more students.
What can go on top of the 10’ PG&E easement that runs through the site?
The easement allows for PG&E to dig underground to add a gas line. Although they have no current plans to do so, the area within that easement should preserve the ability for digging in the future. Surface parking, sports courts, green space, and other surface uses can be placed on this easement so long as they don’t preclude the ability to add a line underground in the future.
Can PG&E easement be canceled?
It is unlikely that PG&E would agree to canceling or moving their easements at this or any other site. The parties will nonetheless explore this possibility.
What about housing on the site? Does zoning allow it or can zoning be changed to allow it?
Housing, particularly teacher housing, was a mentioned several times at the first Cubberley Co-Design Meeting. The Cubberley site is not currently zoned for housing. If housing is added to the site program, the City Council will need to approve a zoning variance. This possibility will be discussed further going forward. Housing is an allowed use on the adjacent 525 San Antonio site.
Do estimates for space for school and community center include halls/ stairs/ elevators/ bathrooms?
Yes. At the first community meeting, the planning team showed rough estimates for Gross Square Footage (GSF) of future school and community center uses. This estimate was based on Paly and Gunn high schools and the existing Cubberley Community Center space. The estimate of 475,000 GSF included total building area, including all programed spaces, circulation spaces, walls, and all other occupiable and non-occupiable building spaces. However, the estimates were just that – estimates. That number is not fixed. As the process moves forward, space estimates will be revised.
If you have any questions, please contact one of the following project representatives:
Concordia: Bobbie Hill | email@example.com
Palo Alto Unified School District : Robert Golton | firstname.lastname@example.org
City of Palo Alto: Kristen O’Kane | Kristen.O’email@example.com
For more information about Concordia, visit their website at concordia.com
You can download a PDF version of the project information here.