UC Berkeley begins construction on new child care center

Sean Conners/Staff
As UC Berkeley's early childhood education center is set to move, Girton Hall will be taken over by the Haas School of Business.

Construction of a new ecologically friendly UC Berkeley early-childhood education center has begun on Dwight Way, with hopes of earning a Silver LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The center is being built in an effort to replace an existing center at Girton Hall, which is slated to be taken over by the Haas School of Business for its own expansion. With a total estimated cost of $4.2 million, the center was designed to use recycled materials and avoid chemical contamination during construction.

The new center is designed to serve 40 preschool children and 10 staff members and will include four program rooms as well as an outdoor play area, totaling 6,500 square feet. It will also use high-efficiency appliances, such as low-flow sinks and fountains.

“We tried to scale it and envision it in a way that would be thoughtful of the age group,” said Susi Marzuola, an architect who was involved with the design. “The University of California worked with a program specialist that helped think about it from the point of view of a child, making sure that the (center) yields the space that a child needs.”

The building site was previously used by the campus Office of Parking & Transportation but has been vacant for a number of years. In preparation for building to begin, the site underwent remediation work in which contaminated soil was removed and replaced.

According to Chris Harvey, director of capital projects for the UC Berkeley, the site has been determined completely safe despite initial concerns with contaminated soil.

To expedite the building process, the center will be made of premanufactured sections that will be assembled on the building site. It is expected to be completed by summer 2014.

“We’re glad that we were able to work out an arrangement so we didn’t lose any child care space,” said Marty Takimoto, director of marketing communications for Residential and Student Service Programs. “We’re appreciative of the fact that we had this old site that wasn’t being used by the university and are able to put it to good use.”

Contact Simon Greenhill at [email protected]