UC Regents Set to Approve Berkeley Projects

By Richard Brenneman
Friday October 26, 2007

UC could make the first cash payment on a new downtown Berkeley art museum in January. 

The UC Board of Regents Committee on Grounds and Buildings is scheduled to approve a $3.5 million payment for partial plans of the new Berkeley Art Museum/ Pacific Film Archive during its Jan. 16 session at the Mission Bay Campus of UC San Francisco. 

The $110 million to $130 million in funding needed for the 138,500-square-foot being designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito is set to come from private donors. 

Barclay Simpson, the 86-year-old Orinda resident and manufacturer who has given extensively to the project, heads the mu-seum’s board of trustees. If built, the new gym and office building that the university proposes to erect below the western wall of Memorial Stadium will also bear his name. 

Though the Barclay Simpson Student Athlete High Performance Center is tied up in a lawsuits filed by the city, neighbors and environmentalists, the university is moving forward with a search for a key project official to oversee the contract administration process. 

In a parallel move, the university has issued a call for companies interested in providing necessary site preparation and testing services, including the installation of a new support beam at the base of the stadium wall. 

The support beam was one of the bones of legal contention during the hearings on the litigation now awaiting a decision by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara J. Miller. 

That action challenges the legality of the environmental documents for the gym and the other buildings included in the Southeast Campus Integrated Projects. 


Other campus projects 

The university is also moving forward with the planned demolition of Earl Warren Hall to make way for the 200,000-square-foot Li Ka-Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences. 

A recently issued request for qualifications seeks a commissioning agent to supervise planning of the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems as well as other aspects of the project. Construction is scheduled to begin early next year, with completion 27 months later. 

Meanwhile, the university has also issued a call for bids for the demolition of the seismically unsound Campbell Hall, a building that houses offices of the College of Arts and Letters and astronomy and physics labs, and for construction of an 88,000-square-foot replacement. 

The new building would also feature a roof-level deck for student astronomers to study the stars, and a bridge linking the building to adjacent Le Conte Hall.  

The UC Board of Regents has scheduled actions on several Berkeley projects over the course of its next two meetings. 

For its meeting on Jan. 16, in addition to considering the new museum complex the board is slated to raise the amount of external funding the UC President’s office can contribute for the building of the Stanley Qualitative Biosciences and Bioengineering Facility from $15 million to $65 million. 

The nearly completed 285,000-square-foot building replaces the earlier 67,000-square foot Stanley Hall, which was demolished four years ago, located between Mining Circle and Gayley Road. 

The new facility, which will contain a significant part of the campus’s research on genetically modified organisms, opened on Sept. 29. 

While an earlier funding measure adopted by the regents in March 2002 specified that the regents would pledge the board’s credit to secure funding, that provision is stricken from the measure up for adoption in January. One of the reasons cited for the change in financing is that a $50 million pledge from a charitable trust is still outstanding, requiring the shift from donated funds to long-term financing. 


Lab projects 

Also in January, the Grounds and Buildings Committee will be asked to approve the environmental review documents and the design for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s (LBNL) Advanced Light Source (ALS) User Support Building, a $32.8 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. 

The 31,389-square-foot building will support research with the ALS, a particle accelerator that produces ultraviolet light and x-ray beams. 

Approval will pave the way for clearing the site by demolishing the existing Building 10 at the lab. 

During their March 13 meeting, the same committee is being asked to amend the budget for the planned lab at LBNL that will house the offices and labs of the controversial biofuel program funded by BP plc, the company once known as British Petroleum. 

In addition to the BP-funded Energy Biosciences Institute, the structure will house other energy research programs, and plans show that part of the structure will be used for the lab’s nanotechnology research. 

While the regents had approved a $159.4 million budget earlier this year, the new action is needed to authorize a specific pledge to use the University Education Fund as the source of repayment of some of the $74.4 million in external funding needed for the project. 

The remainder of the external financing repayment is to come from lease revenues generated by BP’s use of the facility. Of the remainder of project costs, $70 million is to come from state bond funds and $15 million from gifts.  

Bioengineer Jay Keasling, a leading figure in the EBI project at the lab, is also running research programs out of the new Stanley Hall bioscience building and the lab’s newly leased space in Emeryville, where a second biofuel lab—the Joint BioEnergy Institute—will open next spring with federal funding. 

Funding changes to another LBNL project don’t require action by the regents, though the board will be formally notified of the move in January, 

The 22,500-square foot building will provide short-term housing for graduate students and visiting researchers working on projects at the lab. The Office of the President has already given approval not more than $9,993,000 of external financing for the project, with the remainder of $10,937,000 in costs covered by already available lab funds and a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. 

Construction is scheduled to begin next month and end by March 2009.