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The new Stanley: nowhere to go but up
As construction of the campus’s newest research facility proceeds, a vision of future collaborations becomes clear

| 20 November 2003


Susan Marqusee (right), associate director of QB3 at Berkeley, helps Chancellor Berdahl hoist a jar containing a souvenir of the Stanley facility excavation: a rock from the very bottom of the construction site. Similar stones were presented to those attending a reception commemorating the conclusion of that phase of the project.
Peg Skorpinski photo

A crowd of scientists, campus dignitaries, Berkeley alumni, and staff braved the rain on Friday, Nov. 14, to view the construction site where the Stanley Biosciences and Bioengineering Facility will begin to take shape, now that excavation for the facility has been completed. The California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research (QB3) hosted a reception that followed in Hearst Memorial Mining Building.

“It’s a European tradition to celebrate reaching the highest point in the construction of a new building, but here at Berkeley we are celebrating reaching the lowest point,” Chancellor Berdahl remarked with a smile. On a more serious note he added, “The new Stanley is an enabler. It will transform science at Berkeley.”

The replacement of Stanley Hall, scheduled for completion in spring 2006, is a landmark accomplishment for the Berkeley Health Sciences Initiative (HSI), which fosters interdisciplinary and collaborative research focusing on health-related issues. More than 40 researchers from bioengineering, molecular and cell biology, physics, chemistry, and computer science will eventually use the new facility.

When the building, located on the Hearst Memorial Mining Circle on the northeast quadrant of campus, first opens, space will be assigned to researchers in specific scientific areas. Over time, the new facility’s flexible layout will enable researchers to move their workspaces according to how their teams and projects evolve. In this respect the building’s completion will significantly advance Berkeley’s efforts to focus on truly interdisciplinary research targeting some of society’s most pressing biomedical needs.

“The new Stanley’s completion will not just mean having a new building on campus. It also will represent a new style of research for Berkeley,” says Robert Tjian, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and HSI faculty director.

The Stanley facility will house researchers from QB3, a joint effort among three UC campuses (San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Berkeley) that supports biomedical advances through collaborative research and teaching programs. The building will also contain the new department of bioengineering and the Bio-Nanotechnology Center, which will be shared by bioengineering faculty, QB3 participants, and researchers with the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS).

Susan Marqusee, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and associate director of QB3 at Berkeley, looks forward to sharing space and interacting with scientists from different backgrounds and areas of expertise. “With the new Stanley will come an emphasis not on individuals, but on interdependence,” she says. “I anticipate a smooth transition and the bringing together of scientists in a new, beautiful space.”

Portland-based Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership (ZGF) was selected to design the new Stanley, whose exterior will feature Sierra granite and copper, materials complementary to such classical buildings on the Berkeley campus as the Hearst Memorial Mining Building and Doe Library. “The building design pays respect to the historic context and scale of adjacent buildings,” says ZGF partner Joe Collins, “while demonstrating how architecture can support the new interdisciplinary research paradigm.”

Since the May 30, 2003 groundbreaking ceremony, construction crews have been hard at work excavating 100,000 cubic yards of dirt and rock. Alan Burkett, project manager for Facilities Services (formerly Capital Projects), describes the undertaking as “a mining operation on a mining circle.”

For the past six months, crews digging and drilling the 80-foot deep “Stanley Hole,” as Burkett affectionately calls it, have installed soil nails to shore the excavation. They have also added footings below the structure to provide bearing for the 11-story building.

Because the facility site is situated just 200 yards from the Hayward Fault, the seismic engineering of the building is a top priority. A state-of-the-art structural system of steel and concrete-composite bracing will reinforce the building in the event of an earthquake.

“The Stanley replacement building is designed to perform beyond seismic code,” says Bob Bluhm, assistant director of Facilities Services. “That way, in a high-magnitude earthquakae, any damage and loss of operations will be significantly reduced.”

The Stanley replacement facility will incorporate environmentally friendly “green” features. For example, windows will be made of “Low-E” glass that will reduce both air conditioning requirements inside the building and heat gain from outside. Additionally, the new Stanley facility will use a state-of-the-art Variable Air Volume ventilation system that conserves cost and energy. The new building’s occupants will be encouraged to commute via bicycles and public transit, supported by access to an on-site bicycle storage room, showers, and a nearby bus stop.

With the excavation phase complete, construction crews will now begin pouring concrete and building columns for the Stanley facility’s basement levels. Dan Koshland, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and honorary chair of the HSI Volunteer Committee, eagerly anticipates watching the building take shape.

“The completion of the Stanley facility will propel us to an exciting scientific forefront at Berkeley,” Koshland says. “The State of California has given us a gift by encouraging projects of this sort.”

The project budget for the Stanley Biosciences and Bioengineering Facility is approximately $162 million, funded by state sources and private philanthropy. Its construction is among the campus’s highest-priority fundraising efforts.

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