Lobbying for Improved Security


Chris Quazzo

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        If it wasn’t already apparent, the Upper School building was designed by a prison architect. And although the building may have a likeness to a prison via window slits and a lack of natural light, it unfortunately lacks the high-security entrance that most prisons possess. However, that will not last much longer because renovations to our building’s entrance and lobby are scheduled to begin in early June.

        To learn about the plans for the new vestibule and check-in area, I sat down with Mr. Guzman, Director of Operations. As many of us are well aware—and some have experienced it firsthand—security has been a fairly large issue this year, so this is primarily a security-driven project. But, he told me it is also an opportune time to improve the building’s atmosphere and create a more “inviting and well-lit space.” He said that the renovation, which has been a point of discussion for over 3 years, will create a secure entrance to the school, open up lobby space to more light and comfortable hang-out areas, and provide a more aesthetically pleasing atmosphere to students, faculty, and guests. The issue with our current lobby is that it’s a “wide open space,” so on a busy morning at school, for example, “it would be very easy for someone to sneak in behind somebody up to the stairs and go unnoticed.” But, with our new entrance, there will be “a two-step process” in entering the building, much like in the Middle and Lower School, where students will have to sign in and get buzzed through two sets of doors in order to securely enter the building.

        The current architectural plan, which has not yet been finalized, will move the outer glass wall of our entrance to the pillars of the building. In that space, the front desk will be moved down to what is currently outside, approximately where the bike rack is located. The Spirit Shop will also be in this area, approximately where one of the Loggia bathrooms is currently located. In order to meet fire code regulations, the main stairwell that leads to Gallery 2 will be demolished and replaced by an enclosed staircase that leads straight up to where the stairs currently resume on the 2nd floor landing. These changes will open up a lot of areas in the lobby for comfortable seating for students and visitors that will make them feel more at home and less “like they’re waiting for the principal to come get them.”

        In terms of beautification, the wall running from the vestibule to the end of the upper lobby will be painted orange with embedded display cases to give the environment a more spirited vibe. The outside wall of the theatre, which is currently coated with quotes and information for the 125th anniversary, will be painted blue with a “Wrigley Theatre” sign above the main doors. Also, Gallery 1 will be replaced with full-length windows in order to lighten up the space. Overall, the goal of these changes is to create an atmosphere that’s more welcoming, vibrant, and—for lack of a better word—Latin-y. There’s nothing wrong with dark brick walls, but it’s time we showed a little more school spirit. Beyond the appearance changes, the reasons behind this construction project, as Mr. Guzman stressed to me, all stem from the issue of security because it will simply allow for the school to have “better control of who actually has access to our building.”

        Although the details of the plan are not yet set in stone, construction is scheduled to begin on June 9th. It’s possible that, due to the amount of work that needs to be done in such a limited amount of time, the project isn’t completed by the start of the school year. But, as Mr. Guzman put it, “Construction for everybody is an inconvenience,” so there really aren’t any other ways around it. I think this project will do a very effective job of preventing any future threats to security as well as livening up the school atmosphere, and I’m personally excited to walk into the building feeling safe and positive about my day to come and less like I’m visiting a convict.