Eshleman Hall to be demolished months later than projected

The destruction of Eshleman Hall will take place in the second half of the 2012-13 school year.
Michael Tao/Photo Illustration/Staff
The destruction of Eshleman Hall will take place in the second half of the 2012-13 school year.

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Contrary to previous expectations, Eshleman Hall, a building that houses dozens of student groups, will now be demolished in spring 2013 — several months later than originally projected.

Prompted by the B.E.A.R.S. Initiative in 2010, the demolition of the building is part of the larger multimillion dollar Lower Sproul Plaza renovation project, which aims to improve the safety and sustainability of several Lower Sproul buildings.

Though the demolition of Eshleman is scheduled to begin about a year from now, occupants of the building are still scheduled to move out at the beginning of the fall semester, according to Christine Shaff, communications manager for the campus facilities services department.

The project’s total costs will reach over $750 million — which includes the $193 million budget approved by the UC Board of Regents as well as more than $500 million to service the initial debt — and renovations that include Eshleman and the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union building are expected to end in late 2015. Shaff said that despite the delay in demolition, the approximate 2015 completion date of the project remains unchanged.

“I think the timeline was shifted back because of timing issues,” said CalSERVE Senator and ASUC executive vice presidential candidate Anthony Galace, who has worked with students and administrators on the project. “People didn’t want to begin construction before plans of the building were complete.”

However, Shaff said the project manager intended demolition to occur in the spring instead of fall “for at least some time,” owing to details around construction and plans that needed to be worked out.

She also said the months of delay between the move-out and the actual demolition will be needed for preparations, which include moving out all furniture, recycling and repurposing equipment and ensuring that all hazardous materials are cleaned out of the building.

“There is a lot of work that has to be done before the big equipment comes in and chomps the outside of the building,” Shaff said, adding that Campbell Hall — a building on the north side of campus, closed down last semester and also scheduled to be demolished — was found to contain asbestos under the floor tiles, complicating plans.

With Eshleman set to be under demolition and reconstruction for the next several years, all student groups currently housed in the building — which include the ASUC, ASUC Auxiliary, The Daily Californian, and more — will be moving to various locations on- and off-campus.

According to Galace, more than 200 student groups will be moving into newly partitioned “surge” spaces in Hearst Gymnasium.

According to an ASUC spreadsheet, decisions on each group’s space allocations — made by the ASUC executive vice president’s office — were finalized on March 8.

“There’s about a 30 percent decrease in square footage,” Galace said of the new space. “It’s definitely going to take compromises. It’s definitely going to take adjustments. But … in my interactions with student groups, a lot of them are already prepared to move into the surge space.”

Dara Adib, former general manager of the campus Open Computing Facility — a student-run facility that offers free lab hosting and printing and will move to the gym — said in an email that the facility’s move from Heller Lounge to the basement of Eshleman three years ago was met with excessive lab and server downtime.

“I really think we’ve worked hard so far to minimize disruption caused by the move, and the ASUC, university and architects have been helpful,” Adib said of the facility’s upcoming move out of Eshleman. “(But) moves aren’t pretty and some problems may be unforeseeable.”

The Daily Cal will move out of Eshleman at the end of summer, relocating its offices to an off-campus building on Hearst Avenue.

Shaff said the campus began preliminary work on the Hearst Gym spaces over spring break.

“There are a lot of people involved in this project,” Shaff said. “There’s so much work — it’s exciting. We’re working on it, and we’re excited to get moving.”

Amy Wang covers academics and administration.