Santa Monica High School held a groundbreaking ceremony April 16 to mark the construction of its new $55-million Science and Technology Building and Site Improvements Project that is currently underway.

Construction on the facility, which is the largest project in the Measure BB program, began in December. Measure BB is a school construction and renovation bond initiative passed by Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District voters in 2006.

Several officials were in attendance at the groundbreaking including school board President Ben Allen and Measure BB Advisory Committee Member Judith Meister, as well as Superintendent Sandra Lyon and Samohi Principal Laurel Fretz.

The project includes removing the existing science and technology buildings and replacing them with one modernized building. The new building will house 15 science laboratories, 18 classrooms, a computer lab, two special education classrooms, auto shop and I-house administrative offices.

New science labs will be equipped with a variety of new amenities, such as technology equipment, eye wash station, fume hood, energy efficient lighting, sustainable countertops, and a dishwasher for cleaning beakers.

Outdoor improvements will also be done as part of the project, including the reconfiguration of the north parking lot, a Sixth Street vehicular ramp to access the lot, and a 50-space bicycle parking area. The softball field will be relocated adjacent to the new building. A new main entrance will be constructed at Seventh Street and Michigan Avenue.

Another key feature will be the Centennial Plaza, which will be constructed in conjunction with the new facility and create a gathering space for students during lunch, recess hours and school events, school officials said.

The project incorporates green technology and meets Collaborative for High Performance Schools criteria through natural lighting, natural ventilation, maximized energy efficiency, storm water treatment and reduced water use, officials noted.

“As a Samohi alumnus, it is exciting to see this project move forward,” said Stuart Sam, director of the Facility Improvements Office. “The updated science labs and auto shop will provide students knowledge and hands-on experience to excel in various related fields.”

Construction is anticipated to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2014.