Campus: CSU East Bay -- February 23, 2005

Chancellor's Plan Would Remove Some Warren Hall Floors and Build A New Student Services Building

Student services, faculty offices and some administrative functions would be moved to a new building and a number of floors removed from Warren Hall on the Hayward campus of California State University, East Bay under a proposal by the California State University Chancellor's Office.

Two groups of consultants to the Chancellor's Office developed the concept during meetings at Cal State East Bay earlier this month as they considered a more cost efficient way to address upgrades to 12-story Warren Hall. When California voters approved the Statewide School Repair and Construction Bond Act in March of 2004, more than $30 million was allocated for seismic work on the 34-year-old, 194-foot structure.

"The reason that the required seismic retrofit of Warren hall is so expensive is, quite simply, the height of the existing building," said Cal State East Bay President Norma Rees in a memo to all employees. "In place of spending that $31 million to retrofit an old building, we would be allocated those funds to build an entirely new building on another part of the campus."

President Rees estimated that a further savings of "at least tens of millions of dollars" was possible because the bond retrofit money did not include complete asbestos abatement in Warren Hall and upgrades to elevators, lighting and air handling equipment.

"At some point on these projects you can get to where the cost of strengthening a building approaches what it would cost to build a better new one," said Elvyra San Juan, assistant vice chancellor of Capital Planning Design and Construction for CSU Chancellor Charles Reed. "This concept could be a good solution for the campus."

San Juan said the issue is not uncommon with aging state buildings requiring seismic retrofits. Construction will begin on a new Physical Sciences Building on the campus of Cal State Los Angeles this year after it was determined that it would be more cost-efficient than renovating the old one.

San Juan submitted the Chancellor's Office proposal to the California Department of Finance last Friday, Feb. 18, and that department's decision is expected when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announces his May Revise of the state budget this spring. If the proposal is approved, the $30 million or so destined for the retrofit would be assigned to preparing plans for construction of the new campus building and removal of as many as seven floors of offices, but no classrooms, from Warren Hall.

Another education bond is expected to be put before California voters in 2006 that San Juan said would likely include funding for construction of the new building and dismantling of an as-yet undetermined number of floors on Warren Hall, which has about 140,000 gross square feet.

The new building would be expected to replace square footage equivalent to that lost by removing floors in Warren Hall. The upper seven floors range from 6,660 to 7,353 square feet.

President Rees said the proposed new building might be located near a spot originally intended on the campus master plan to be the main entrance to the 342-acre campus, just east of where construction is now underway on the 67,000 square foot Wayne and Gladys Valley Business and Technology Center. The location would be across from Parking Lot G and just off Old Hilary Road, which is used by AC Transit buses serving the university and inter-campus shuttle vans.

"The new building would be right where the action is," President Rees said. "It will put student services offices in a place closer to classrooms and to where most students park. It will make the face of the campus appear much more friendly."

She said that if the proposal is approved, "we will have all the time we need" to call together students, faculty, staff and friends of the university for consultations.

Warren Hall houses student services such as registration and admissions, financial aid, testing, and the Career Development Center. There are a limited number of faculty offices in the building and administrative offices include those for technology, facilities management, business affairs, university advancement, student affairs, and the president.

If the proposal becomes a part of the state budget and a higher education construction bond is passed next year, the removal of floors in Warren Hall and completion of the new building could be expected in three to four years, according to Barbara Beckman, Cal State East Bay's interim associate vice president for Facilities, Planning and Operations.

"The Chancellor's Office has taken a close look at our operations to make sure that we can manage this new project," said Beckman, whose department is currently supervising development of the new Business and Technology Center, an extension to the University Union and the construction of apartments for more than 400 additional students at the Pioneer Heights student residence complex.

"Besides, the Chancellor's Office proposal would solve a lot of problems we would have in maintaining an old building," Beckman said. "Newer buildings are more energy efficient, easier to clean and make a better uses of space."

The genesis of the project came on Feb. 4, when members of the Chancellor's Office Certification Review Board toured the campus during a previously scheduled meeting to, in part, review progress on the three major construction projects underway this year. According to Beckman and San Juan, it was then that the group began assessing the merits of creating a new building instead of simply strengthening Warren Hall.

On Feb. 15, structural engineers in private practice who are members of the California Seismic Review Board came to the campus for a periodic review. That team came to the same conclusion as the Certification Review Board. The Chancellor's Office Capital Planning Design and Construction team went to work on the proposal that was submitted to the Department of Finance last Friday.

Media Contact: Kim Huggett, Dir. of Public Affairs, (510) 885-2032

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