Renovation to Lower Sproul Plaza continues into fall

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Michael Tao/File

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With the relocation of the UC Berkeley Career Center to Bancroft Way, this summer began the extensive $223 million renovation of the Lower Sproul Plaza that will continue in through the fall, designed to make the area more lively for students by improving the area’s functionality, safety and overall appearance.

Renovations to the plaza — part of the B.E.A.R.S. Initiative passed by students in the spring 2010 ASUC elections and approved by the UC Board of Regents in November 2011 — will be divided into two projects, which will occur simultaneously. The first is a $193 million project that funds the demolition and reconstruction of Eshleman Hall, the extension to the MLK Student Union, the relocation of the campus Career Center to Bancroft and renovations to the Hearst Gym.

The second part of the project is a $30 million renovation to specific parts of the student union including the Naia Lounge and ASUC mall area, which will be a media center, Anthony Hall and the Cesar Chavez Student Center, according to ASUC Executive Vice President Justin Sayarath.

The first buildings to be renovated include the student center, Anthony Hall, Eshleman Hall and the MLK Student Union.
Renovations of Anthony Hall — which houses the campus Graduate Assembly — will start after Thanksgiving and continue through the December and early January. It is scheduled to be open for students at the start of the spring semester, according to Christine Shaff, Communications Directors for UC Berkeley Facilities Services.

The work to the student center, which includes upgrades to the mechanical and fire alarm systems, improvements to lighting, waterproofing, flooring and ADA access, and renovation of bathrooms, is scheduled to take place over winter break as well, Shaff said.

Following renovations to Anthony Hall and the student center, Eshleman Hall will be destroyed early March 2013, months later than originally projected. However, the building, which previously housed student groups, ASUC offices and The Daily Californian and is already being vacated. It will remain mostly empty for the duration of the fall semester, but the senate chambers will still house weekly ASUC senate meetings, Shaff said.

“The (campus’s) recycling and refuse groups are reusing and repurposing what is left in Eshleman,” Shaff said.
Demolition of Eshleman Hall will occur from the inside out. According to Shaff, due to the building’s age, hazardous materials such as lead paint and asbestos insulation will need to be removed first, a process that will begin in late January. Once everything is cleaned out, the soft demolition — the interior demolition of building walls and ceilings — will occur.

“Because we’re in such a busy area, there are lots of people around and work goes a little more slowly than if we had a completely open site,” said Shaff.

Finally, construction to extend the MLK Student Union will occur at the same time as the demolition of Eshleman Hall, Shaff said. The Cal Student Store is scheduled to be open until mid-February.

While the renovation of Eshleman and the student union is occurring, Shaff said a site plan — which will map out pedestrian pathways through the accessible parts of Lower Sproul  — will be developed. Campus officials are currently coordinating the plan with the city of Berkeley, AC Transit and campus Parking & Transportation. The site plan will include changes to pedestrian pathways and bus stops along Bancroft.

The complete renovation of Lower Sproul is scheduled to be completed by fall 2015.

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