By Shelli DeRobertis
and Pat ShermanA new $10 million, tri-level state- of-the-art library — complete with an ocean view — will welcome The Bishop’s School’s 800 students back from summer vacation when they pass through its mahogany doors for the first time on Wednesday, Aug. 22.
A dedication ceremony for the Manchester Library & Learning Center is set for 1:45 p.m. that day on the campus’ Larmour Lawn and Plaza.
It is the latest addition to the 103-year-old college preparatory school in La Jolla, which is affiliated with the Episcopal Church and serves students in grades 6-12.
“People are saying the new building looks like it’s been here all along. It closes our quad,” said John Trifiletti, assistant head of school.
The Manchester Library & Learning Center, at 22,000 square-feet, is nearly triple the size of the Richard B. Huntington Library that formerly served the students. Its architectural style mirrors that of other buildings on campus — some of which have historical designations.
The former library now becomes home to the middle school (grades 6-8) housing classrooms, an assembly hall and administrative offices, according to Suzanne Weiner, director of marketing.
Head of School Aimeclaire Roche said the new library provides the school with the opportunity to upgrade technology seamlessly. “The new building is state-of-the-art. What that means to the campus is students will now have enormous access to digital media,” Roche said, adding that the outdoor plaza will have a wireless Internet connection.
C.W. Driver Construction began work on the Manchester Library & Learning Center 13 months ago on the parcel of land next to the Wheeler J. Bailey Building that was built in 1934 and designed by Irving Gill.
The Manchester Library & Learning Center was designed by architects Delawie Wilkes Rodrigues Barker of San Diego, and its Mission-style incorporates Gill’s signature arches.
The atrium-like design provides a view of its large arched windows and red oak ceiling from any level. Three large chandeliers (which can be lowered with the push of a button for cleaning) help spread the light.
Cushioned armchairs, ottomans, and desks and tables in the Mission-style are sprinkled throughout the first floor, which Trifiletti said is designed to have a casual atmosphere where students can put their feet up while reading.
Roche said the library has small, collaborative work spaces as opposed to traditional, individual study carrels. “It will function more like a community center for us,” she said.
An elevator ride is an option for reaching the balcony on the top level, which offers students outdoor seating and an ocean view.
“The building was on-time and on- budget,” Trifiletti said. “The realities of building something like this are of funding, and it’s all paid for.”
The Manchester Library & Learning Center was named for Doug and Betsy Manchester, who Trifiletti said gave the “lead gift” for the facility. He said there were also 35 other “significant donors,” and a list of all the major benefactors will be presented on a wall inside the cedar portico.
Assistant librarian Alisa Brandt said within the last few weeks staff moved some 27,000 books from the old library into the new building. “We’re buying more books all the time. We’re driven by the curriculum, so if a teacher needs something, we just get it. There have been donations that have come in over the summer, too,” she said.
Gifts contributed to the library will be acknowledged at the dedication. Among them is the collection of the late, former faculty member, Dr. Otto Mower, who bequethed the school all of his books. Dr. Mower was an art historian and linguist who died last year at age 94. Stephany Erlbeck, parent of two students at the school, popped in for the first time on Aug. 8 to peek around. She said her kids are very excited about seeing it, too.
“I think they’ve done an amazing job on the whole design of it. It’s incredible,” Erlbeck said. “The library before was so small. This one matches the caliber of the school.”
The library is now so large that an ad- ditional 1,200 square feet of undesignat- ed space will be used as needed for future growth, Trifiletti said.
The first floor houses fiction material and the third floor is home to the fine arts collection and the learning center.
The main floor is stacked with reference books and the entire Huntington collection.
Each level has two soundproof group study rooms in its “wings,” equipped with state-of-the-art technology, such as a 50-inch monitor on the wall for team projects.
Trifiletti said he believes the study rooms are going to be one of the signa- ture features of the building.
Learning Center Director Ken Chep coordinates accommodations for students who need help with test preparation and study strategies, as well as those with special needs, such as attention deficit disorder.
He said he’s excited that the new library classrooms will serve those students.
“We’ll just come up here,” he said looking around the elegant library classroom. “I try to keep it pretty low key so students feel comfortable getting the assistance they need.”