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Campanile set to reopen, then close again for more repairs this fall

| 7 August 2009

Campanile(Steve McConnell/UC Berkeley photo)

Summer visitors to campus will find the Campanile open once more beginning this Sunday (Aug. 9) at 10 a.m. But they should tour it soon, as the world's third largest bell and clock tower — shut down for repairs since mid-June — needs more fixes than anticipated and will close again in the fall, when a large construction crane returns to the site.

The crane has been helping to lift materials for waterproofing work, and to remove the lantern and its support structure from the top of the 1914 tower's spire, as they are in need of repair.  When the crane reappears, it will return the lantern to crown the Campanile, 307 feet in the air.

Originally, the deferred maintenance project was expected to wrap up at the end of August. But work crews discovered that the beloved Campanile was more weathered than previously thought. Now, it may be mid-October before the work is complete, says Christine Shaff, communications director for UC Berkeley Capital Projects.

Shaff says workers on scaffolding near the top of the tower discovered that some of the exterior stone tiles, out in the weather and wind for more than 90 years, were cracked and wearing, and that some were "sugaring". The lantern and its steel frame were also more weathered than expected and could not be repaired on site.

Several pieces of marble already have been taken down for cleaning and repair and will be returned once fixes to the concrete structure of the spire also are complete. The original stone tiles vary in size, Shaff adds, and some weigh in excess of 100 pounds.

The Campanile repair project is being paid for with deferred maintenance funds that were allocated by the campus more than a year ago.

For Homecoming 2009, Oct. 2-4, fencing around the Campanile will come down so that alumni can picnic in the area or visit the tower for sweeping views of the Bay Area. Fencing will be put back once the celebrations are over, allowing the project to finish.

"The repair work is a little more extensive than we anticipated, but we have a great team working on it, and the end goal is to have the Campanile ready to serve for another 100 years as the campus icon that's visible from all around the bay," she says.

Beginning Aug. 9, the Campanile will have modified hours for visitors. On Sundays it will be open from 10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., and from 3 p.m. until 4:45 p.m. Its hours Monday through Friday will be 11 a.m. until 3:45 p.m. On Saturdays, it will be open from 10 a.m. until 4:45 p.m.

For more about the Campanile, see the Visitor Center website.