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Malibu High School Tops Out Expansion Project

By Eric Althoff

MALIBU, Calif.—Personnel from general contracting firm C.W. Driver Companies recently attended a topping-out event held to celebrate the hoisting in place of a ceremonial beam at the new Malibu High School building. Signed by school staff, students and local civic leaders, the steel beam-raising marks a major milepost in the $110 million construction project, which will add 70,000 square feet of educational space to the high school.

The new school building is being built atop the site of the former Juan Cabrillo Elementary School, located adjacent to Malibu High School. To make way for the new building, C.W. Driver and its partners had to demolish nine existing buildings encompassing nearly 40,000 square feet of space.

The new building will be the home of 70,000 square feet of space encompassing a library, STEM classrooms, performing arts and visual learning classrooms, cafeteria, and multipurpose spaces. For staff, the building will also house various administrative offices as well.

As designed by NAC Architecture, the two-story building will offer an open breezeway in between copper-clad and concrete walls. As part of NAC’s design, the outdoor common area will be at least partially shaded by a canopy overhead that will generate electricity for the school thanks to some photovoltaic panels installed therein. This will be in line with Malibu High School’s ethos of conservation and dedication to renewable energy.

NAC’s design for the school was recognized with an award from the California chapter of the American Institute of Architects this spring.

“This building will provide a quality educational environment,” said Superintendent Antonio Shelton at the ceremony. “This new school was made possible because of the support and dedication from the Malibu community.”

The topping out represents approximately the halfway point of the Phase 1 construction work.  The buildout commenced last November, and the building is expected to be open and ready for students come the fall of 2025. Phase 2 work will entail updating the middle school facilities, located on the same campus, and adding an Olympic-size swimming pool and other new facilities. That work is expected early in 2026.

Malibu High School is part of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. The construction work is being funded by money set aside by Measure M, which Malibu voters passed in 2018.

At the beam-signing and -hoisting ceremony, C.W. Driver Companies COO Brent Hughes praised his team’s work on the project thus far.

“Because of our extensive experience with over 150 K-12 projects for over 23 different school districts, we understand what it takes to safely construct educational facilities on time for our clients,” he said.  “We look forward to providing Santa Monica-Malibu USD with this space to invest in student success for many years to come.”

Other project partners working with C.W. Driver and NAC include Koning Eizenberg Architecture, Pfeiler & Associates Engineers, California Solar Integrators, Inc., AMPCO North Hunsaker and Associates.