Work intensifies at Barker Hall seismic retrofit project


Barker hall

Construction crews work on digging a six-by-11-foot moat around Barker Hall. Work has intensified in recent weeks on the seismic retrofit project. Jeff Wason photo

17 January 2001 | Seismic retrofit work at Barker Hall will intensify in the coming weeks, and project leaders say more noise is to be expected as the effort to make the building safer for those who work and study there gets well under way.

Construction work for the seismic retrofit began in December with roto-hammer work and limited exterior demolition, a phase that is expected to last about three months. Capital Projects officials are notifying those in the neighborhood that the work will be noisier than regular construction. Roto-hammer work will start no earlier than 8 a.m. and go no later than 5 p.m., from Monday to Friday only.

Steps were taken to find the least noisy method of construction, to limit the impact on neighbors. The project team tested a water-blasting method for this phase of the project but found it made more noise than roto-hammers. The contractor will partially enclose the scaffolding to prevent material from flying out from the building and to reduce noise.

Subsequent construction will include digging a six- by-11-foot moat around the building. The new concrete footing will give Barker Hall an anchor that provides stability in the ground. New shear walls will be built up from the new base and attached to the current exterior walls, to support the building laterally and reduce the risk of collapse during an earthquake. This work is not expected to be any noisier than regular construction.

The seismic retrofit and upgrade of Barker Hall is part of SAFER, Berkeley's comprehensive program to improve the seismic safety of its facilities. Construction at Barker began in Dec. 2000 and will be completed by Spring 2002.

Barker Hall, home to the department of Molecular and Cell Biology, was completed in 1963. The need to improve the seismic safety is based on engineering surveys and information gathered after significant earthquakes worldwide.

For safety reasons, the crosswalk across Hearst Ave. just east of the Hearst/Oxford intersection will be removed during construction. The right-turn lane from Oxford onto Hearst will remain closed. Bus and shuttle stops have been relocated.

Questions or concerns about the health and environmental impacts of campus construction should be directed to Environment Heath & Safety at 642-3073.


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