The construction crew works on the media arts building. Photo by Charu Srivastava

You’ve seen them working but have you ever thought about what a construction worker does behind the scenes?

Tim McBrian, the senior project manager of the Palo Alto High School construction project, has firsthand knowledge of Paly’s construction scene. His construction expertise stems from working in construction for a long time.

“I was told I was good at it and I enjoyed thinking on my feet,” McBrian says. For him, a typical day includes responding to project needs, which can come from the design or trade department.

McBrian takes care of problems that arise throughout the day, essentially overseeing the project and handling any and all issues. Although his job is crucial to making sure the construction goes smoothly, sometimes even that doesn’t prevent issues from occuring.

“A challenge is keeping the school functioning,” McBrian says. “We have knocked out power in the [400] building and had to repair it quickly.”

Particularly because of Paly’s age, the workers on the site never know what to expect, and must be quick to react.

“On a 100-year-old school [like Paly], we’ve encountered unknown utilities,” McBrian says. “We call them unforeseen conditions.”

In the past, noise presented another issue. But McBrian says that the efforts in minimizing noise and confusion have been mostly sucessful.

“The noisiest part [of construction] is past us,” says Kim Diorio, the Paly administrator in charge of construction.

For any teachers who continue to complain about the noise, microphones are available for the classroom and have proved to be very helpful, according to Diorio.

Working at a school also requires knowing the dates of important school events  that might conflict with construction.

To coordinate around these, construction workers must be in close contact with the administration.

“We call, text and email,” Diorio says. This level of communication allows the project to run smoothly.

“They [the administration] have been very supportive in working with us to keep in touch with events and to work around them,” McBrian says.

According to Diorio, the administration and constuction workers have weekly Wednesday meetings to talk about upcoming events that the construction crew needs to know about.

“They are very professional and hardworking,” Diorio says. “They really care about the project.”