The northwest stairs to Lower Sproul Plaza, a rain garden and a renovated pathway between Zellerbach Hall and the Alumni House were formally opened with a celebration Friday, Oct. 25.
The opening ceremony, put on by the ASUC and ASUC Auxiliary, included speeches by Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande, ASUC President DeeJay Pepito and CalSERVE Senator Briana Mullen, as well as performances by UC Berkeley’s BareTroupe, the California Golden Overtones and others. The developments were celebrated as the first major step in the Lower Sproul Redevelopment Project in terms of physical additions.
The stairs include a new ramp to facilitate disabled travel in the area, said Christine Shaff, the communications director for campus facility services, in an email.
Lower Sproul Plaza now features two memorials, including a memorial bench dedicated to Grace Asuncion, the UC Berkeley junior who was stabbed to death in Eshleman Hall in 1992. Previously, a bench for Asuncion stood at the west side of Eshleman; now, it is outside the Multicultural Community Center at Hearst Annex. Friends Asuncion made during her time at UC Berkeley presented her memorial at the Friday ceremony.
“We wanted something to memorialize Grace and her work to this campus and (to show) how her death really shaped campus safety afterwards,” Mullen said.
Additionally, a memorial bench and boulder with a plaque for members of the campus community who died serving in the Korean War is in a new location in the Lower Sproul area. Lt. Col. Kenneth Crabtree from UC Berkeley Military Affairs was present to speak about the Korean War.
The next steps in the redevelopment include construction of the new Eshleman Hall and Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union. Construction of Eshleman’s foundation, including the installation of rebar — steel wiring to hold concrete in compression — is under way, and a large concrete pour is scheduled for Nov. 14. In the student union, crews are continuing to work on interior demolition to make room for future renovation. Work has started on constructing additional space on the west and south ends of the building, Shaff said.
Additionally, Shaff said the northeast stairs to Lower Sproul are scheduled to close in mid-December and are expected to be closed through summer 2014.
The Lower Sproul Redevelopment Project, which includes a number of projects around campus as well as improvements to the plaza, has already seen developments such as the move of the Career Center to Bancroft Way during the 2012-13 school year and the renovations of Anthony Hall and Anna Head Alumnae Hall, both completed last semester.