Campus celebrates placement of final steel beam in Eshleman Hall

Rachael Garner/Staff

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Campus leaders commemorated the placement of the final steel beam in Eshleman Hall’s frame as part of a special ceremony Tuesday afternoon marking a milestone in ongoing construction in Lower Sproul.

The Lower Sproul Redevelopment Project, which started in Eshleman last year, is currently within budget and scheduled to finish by fall 2015, according to Christine Shaff, director of communications at the campus real estate division. The finished project will also include renovations for the MLK Jr. Student Union, Anthony Hall and the Cesar Chavez Student Center.

“What more can you ask for?” said Kelsey Finn, executive director of the ASUC Student Union, who acted as a liaison between the campus and ASUC for this project. “A lot of blood, sweat and tears have been shed up to this point.”

In addition to the placement of the final beam, construction crews are continuing work on the exterior of Eshleman’s first few floors and pouring concrete for the columns and walls. In the last few weeks, the Cesar Chavez Student Center received tables and benches for a new seating area and a staircase connecting to Lower Sproul. Recently, the project included the addition of a rain garden on the west side of the student center designed to filter runoff into Strawberry Creek.

Students at the ceremony were invited to sign the roughly 40-foot beam and leave their mark on Eshleman Hall.

“I think it’s good to feel a part of this — part of the present and the future,” said Sergio Pirinoli, a UC Berkeley graduate student in education.

For Corrina Calanoc, a UC Berkeley junior and member of the Pilipino American Alliance, attending the ceremony was especially important.

“There’s a lot of Filipino history here,” Calanoc said, referring to Grace Asuncion, a former leader of the alliance, who was murdered in Eshleman in 1992. “Watching this building get demolished and now finished (and) to get to sign it and be a part of it means a lot.”

The construction was motivated by opinions among student leaders and faculty that buildings in Lower Sproul were long overdue for renovation after years of neglect. Additionally, Eshleman Hall did not meet adequate earthquake retrofitting standards, and it needed to be demolished.

At the ceremony, some members of the ASUC expressed satisfaction with their level of involvement in decision-making and overseeing of the project.

Briana Mullen, Lower Sproul communications coordinator and ASUC member, said she envisioned the new Eshleman building as a flexible space that could adapt to the changing needs of students.

“I’ve realized the impact this project will have for multiple generations and what it means to student leadership,” Mullen said. “Students were the ones who created and manifested this project.”

Contact Alex Barreira at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @abarreira_dc.