Crews make progress on auditorium upgrades


Photo by Ruby Miller.

Crews hope to finish the auditorium’s upgrades by June. Here is a recent look inside the auditorium from a performer’s point of view.

Lamya Saade, Opinion Editor

Preserving the look of the auditorium, inside and out, is a main priority. (Photo by Ruby Miller.)

Complying with COVID restrictions has made this a challenging year for most FUHS programs, but having the auditorium undergo necessary upgrades has made things even tougher for performing artists.

Because the auditorium is unavailable this year, the dance program hosted its performances at La Habra High School. Choir held its Winter Concert at Troy High School’s auditorium. Band opted for a Winter Concert outside in the quad. Theater students are rebuilding spring musical sets to fit in the smaller Little Theater.

However, Troy Shandy, the Construction Projects Manager for the Fullerton Joint Union High School District, would like to reassure community members that the construction crew is working diligently to ensure progress is running smoothly and the auditorium is becoming an earthquake safe, ADA inclusive building.

Shandy and his team have also been working closely with the Fullerton Heritage Society to make sure the original design and authenticity of the building are being preserved. A secondary lobby was made in order to maintain the intended look of the front of the building.

“When we went to do the retrofit we also had to include a component for adding ADA ramps. One of the designs had a ramp in the front and it basically destroyed the whole look of the stairs, and the Fullerton Heritage Society didn’t like that idea because this is a historic building,” Shandy said. “So that’s how we ended up building all the stuff on the side. This way we’ll provide access through there instead of tearing up the front. So that’s an example of trying to keep the historic element of the building and not alter it too much.”

Crews are working as carefully and as quickly as possible, but they are forced to pause in between tasks to wait for state approval to move onto the next phase. Shandy hopes the auditorium will be ready for use in June.

Continue reading to learn more about the auditorium’s progress as project manager Troy Shandy narrates a Tribe Tribune Photo Tour. 


Troy Shandy explained that the construction crew is stripping plaster off of the primary columns of the clock tower and applying fiber reinforced plastic, or FRP, to support the building in case of an earthquake. (Photo by Ruby Miller.)
“The whole idea is to support this building going left to right, that’s where the flaws are,” said Troy Shandy. “So that’s why we have the tower reinforced, and we built a buttress, and it’s basically a giant piece of concrete filled with steel. It goes 30 feet down into the ground, and this acts as a support for this side of the building. So as it wants to move, it’s got something to move against and hold it up on the side.” (Photo by Ruby Miller. )
“This is another location where they’re preparing to put the black FRP on. These two columns are major supporting columns,” Project Manager Troy Shandy said. “Right now they’re just preparing them. They’re taking out the loose stuff, getting down to the raw concrete, and then they go over it and smooth them out to prepare for applying the material.” (Photo by Ruby Miller.)
“We decided instead of tearing up the front, we would add a secondary lobby, and that’s what you see here. It’s a new lobby that attaches all the way to the top, and then descends to get you down to the stage,” Shandy said. “So there are different levels and it’s got two chair lifts in it, so that a person can come in from the street, take a lift to get up to the front lobby, or take a lift to go down into the stage area. And then there’s a regular elevator at the bottom that’ll take you all the way down to the backstage area for actors and singers. Before, this theater did not have accommodations for students to get down into the basement, and that’s where the green room is as well as the dressing rooms.” (Photo by Ruby Miller.)
Restrooms added for ADA accommodations that include wider stalls with grab bars will be located in the new lobby area which faces Lemon Street. (Photo by Ruby Miller.)
Shandy said in order to preserve original intricate designs in the theater, such as the capitals at the top of each indoor column, workers had to carefully cut each capital and will reassemble them like a “jigsaw puzzle” following the construction’s completion. (Photo by Ruby Miller.)
“One of the other things we’ve had to do for this building is put in new fire systems,” Shandy said. “Again, this was built in the 30’s, so it didn’t have the same setups for smoke detectors. Unfortunately we have to put these modern detectors on this beautiful wall, so we’re doing our best to try and hide them. We’ll paint them the same color as the plaster to hide them even more, but those are the kind of things you have to do for modern times.” (Photo by Ruby Miller.)
“[The stage] here has gone through dramatic change. If you remember, there was a piano storage room right as you walk down, that’s all gone,” Shandy said. “We built a wall, this is a part of the seismic update. It has steel that goes all the way up and around. When we did that we had to take everything off that wall; it had all the rigging, all the stage equipment, all the electrical lighting. So our electricians are just starting to come back to get in the process of putting all that stuff back on the wall. These walls will get some steel plating; they’ve had the FRP installed, and it goes all the way up. And they’ll come up and put steel plating that goes 10 feet high to support it.” (Photo by Ruby Miller.)
“We paid a company a good amount of money to protect the organ, so what they’ve done is put plastic all over the tubes and reeds and protected it all very well,” Shandy said. “The pipe organ control is behind plastic and it’s double wrapped and it’s got quilts and everything around it to protect the keys and that sort of thing. And the piano is back there in storage as well. So it’s all protected and when we’re done what we’ll have to do is take all the protection off and have it retuned. But it’ll be just like it was.” (Photo by Ruby Miller.)
A painted mural inside one of the abandoned rooms of the auditorium clock tower depicts a mediterranean setting. (Photo by Ruby Miller.)
A label on the inner workings of the clock in the tower reveals the company that manufactured the clock and the year it was made. (Photo by Ruby Miller.)