Berkeley Way West building replaces Tolman Hall because of pending demolition

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Karen Chow/Senior Staff

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The Berkeley Way West building, which was built to replace the seismically unsafe Tolman Hall, opened this semester for academic use.

Berkeley Way West was built to house the three departments that were displaced — the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, the psychology department and the Graduate School of Education. According to UC Berkeley’s Capital Strategies spokesperson Kyle Gibson, people began moving into Berkeley Way West’s offices May 31 and continued to relocate over the next couple months.

“The building was really built as part of a long goal to make buildings seismic(ally) safe,” said campus Director of Capital Projects Shannon Holloway during the tour. “This building was a long time in the works, so we could get everyone out of Tolman Hall.”

Construction planning for Berkeley Way West began in 2014, and construction broke ground more than two years ago, according to Holloway. He added that certain areas could be expanded on later, such as the creation of a possible roof deck.

Holloway said the building’s top three floors will be leased to other businesses, with the top floor already reserved for the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research lab. There are also retail spaces on the ground level.

“It’s retail or other functions being incorporated into buildings — that’s something … determined project by project,” Gibson said. “It fits the site to have this retail space here.”

The building is expected to get a gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, or LEED certification, though Holloway said they are still working on obtaining the formal certification. David Blackwell Hall, a new residence hall that opened in July, also received a gold LEED status.

During a tour, Holloway discussed the different ways the architects and engineers for the Berkeley Way West project met their LEED certification goal. Certain features, such as the maximization of natural sunlight and use of recycled construction materials, were highlighted during the tour.

Another feature discussed during the tour was the building’s heat recovery chiller, which can produce both warm and cold water through one device, according to Shawn Wilson, the lead mechanical engineer working on Berkeley Way West.

“There’s really no gas associated with this, so we’ve almost eliminated natural gas use in this building (other than) domestic water heating,” Wilson said during the tour.

Tolman Hall has been closed to general campus since this summer, and according to Gibson, demolition is set to start somewhere between the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019. He added that there are currently no plans for building on Tolman Hall’s soon-to-be vacant lot.

“(Our) priority with Tolman is demolition, not demolition and building,” Gibson said. “(We) don’t want a large vacant building because that’s also a safety worry.”

Contact Sakura Cannestra at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SakuCannestra.