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Seismic and infrastructure upgrade projects set to commence this summer

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
Posted May 3, 2000

Construction projects slated to begin in the next few months promise more noise than usual during Berkeley's "quiet" summer months.

The schedule includes seismic retrofitting of the Silver Lab at the Space Sciences Laboratory and of Barrows, Barker, Hildebrand and Latimer Halls -- all part of the comprehensive program to improve the safety of the campus and modernize facilities.

In October 1998, Berkeley received nearly $42 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to upgrade Barrows, Hildebrand, Latimer and Silver Lab. This grant money was augmented by state and campus funds. The total cost for these four projects is estimated at $89

to $91 million. The Barker Hall seismic upgrade is state funded.

In addition, safety and infrastructure projects of the City of Berkeley and other public agencies may impact access to and from the campus.

Major projects scheduled to begin this summer include the following:

Barrows Hall

New reinforced concrete walls will be attached to the concrete and steel columns at either end of Barrows to help upgrade its seismic rating from poor to good.

Construction will start in May and is scheduled for completion in fall 2001.

Chipping off the exterior of the building will create considerable noise during the first phase of this project; the project manager is looking at ways to mitigate the volume.

To reduce the impact on Barrows occupants and neighbors, construction will occur between 2 and 10 p.m., weekdays, through the summer. Faculty and staff will not have to move out of the building during construction, but some shuffling of office space will occur. Classes will be held in alternative locations around campus.

Those who work in Barrows, which houses nearly 15 different departments, are encouraged to adapt their schedules to the 2-to-10 p.m. construction schedule by telecommuting or arranging other alternatives with their supervisors. Staff who need to stay on campus but are unable to occupy their offices due to noise or construction may use a computer-equipped surge space in Barrows' basement.

Updated construction schedules and timelines will be available via e-mail and on the Web.

Barrows Lane will be subject to temporary closures during construction, and the breezeway to the west of the building will be closed for an extended period. A temporary road between North Field and Hearst Gym will be constructed for emergency and service vehicle access. This path will be open to pedestrians, but may be closed periodically during construction.

Disabled access to Hearst Annex will be created on the south side of Hearst Gym. There will be a ramp over the stairs between the gym and the annex, on the side of the gym facing Bancroft Avenue.

Access to either the east or west entrances to Barrows will be interrupted at times during the construction. Residents and visitors will be directed to the opposite end when this occurs.

Silver Lab -- Space Sciences Laboratory

Concrete buttresses on the north, south and east sides of the lab's exterior will be installed to improve the seismic safety of the building. Interior columns will also be reinforced. The project includes installation of a new fire alarm and sprinklers, and upgrades to improve disabled access to the bathrooms, as well as some deferred maintenance work.

Work will begin in June and is expected to continue through the summer of 2001.

The lower parking area will be used for staging and construction vehicles; there will be planned disruptions to traffic in the hill area. Access to a nearby fire trail will be slightly modified; recreational users will need to park in the terraced lots near Lawrence Hall of Science.

Tests to predict noise and vibration from the project indicated little or no impact for building occupants and neighbors.

During various phases of construction, the 70 people who occupy Silver Lab will be moved, in groups, to alternate locations in the building.

Barker Hall

Seismic upgrades to Barker involve drilling deep piers, constructing massive concrete foundations, and shear walling the four sides of the building, as well as program upgrades and system restorations.

All 250 occupants have been relocated to offices and labs in other campus buildings. Some have moved off campus, with one group now stationed at Children's Hospital in Oakland. A directory posted near entrances to the building will list new locations for all functions formerly housed in Barker.

The project team plans to use regular e-mail updates and weekly meetings to inform campus and community members of work schedules.

Construction is scheduled to begin in July and to be completed in summer 2001.

Campus shuttle stops will be relocated to accommodate construction trailers on lower Hearst Avenue. Pedestrians will need to use the sidewalk on the north side of Hearst. The right-turn lane from Oxford Street onto Hearst Avenue will remain open. Access may be altered temporarily during the course of construction. Those affected will be notified in advance.

Hildebrand and Latimer Halls

Separate construction teams of the same contractor will work on Latimer and Hildebrand Halls simultaneously. To improve seismic safety, Hildebrand will get new interior concrete footings and shear walls, with steel brace frames on the upper level. Latimer will receive new concrete footings and exterior concrete column and spandrel-reinforcing elements.

Construction is scheduled to begin in August, with some preliminary work starting in July. The anticipated completion time is late 2001.

All occupants of Latimer will remain in the building; about half of those in Hildebrand will relocate.

Much of the area surrounding the two buildings will be impacted.

This will include East Gate access; the esplanade between Tan, Gilman, Campbell and Le Conte Halls; and the roadway south of Hildebrand. Fences,

signs, new walkways, delineators and flagmen will be used to redirect pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Because of noise from construction, some classes have been moved from Latimer to other buildings. Noise at both Latimer and Hildebrand will be mitigated by off-hour and shift work.


An extensive project to restore and upgrade the campus utility infrastructure -- including communication, steam, water and sewer systems -- began in April 1999 at various sites around campus. The focus will now shift to the northwest quadrant.

Water-line work will take place around Mulford Hall, the Life Sciences Addition and the Eucalyptus Grove. Sewer line work is scheduled for West Gate, from the west crescent up to Moffitt Library. The upgrades will be completed during spring of 2001.

Impacts on parking and traffic are expected. Signage in the area, updated as work progresses, will provide specific information on alternate access, closed and blocked roads. Information on utility interruption will be provided to those affected.

Funding for this project comes from a variety of sources, including bond financing and state and campus funds for deferred maintenance, network improvements and capital projects.

City of Berkeley College Avenue re-paving project

Access to and from the campus may be slowed as the city begins repaving College Avenue, from Dwight Way to the south city limits. The project begins May 29 and should be completed by fall.

Southbound traffic will be maintained on College Avenue; northbound traffic will be detoured to three alternative routes. For information, call 665-3400.

East Bay MUD projects

Pipeline crews have been working on Oxford Street,

between Hearst and Bancroft Avenues, excavating and installing a new water main. The project should be completed by mid July.

Work hours are from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Those entering and leaving the area can expect delays of up to 10 minutes.

For information on the pipeline job, call Al Mendoza at 287-0862.




May 3 - 9, 2000 (Volume 28, Number 32)
Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the
Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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