UC Berkeley Building Projects, Lawsuits on Regents’ Agenda

By Richard Brenneman
Friday July 11, 2008 - 12:38:00 PM

The UC Regents are scheduled to make key votes Tuesday on three major Berkeley building projects. 

On the agenda for the board’s Committee on Grounds and Buildings are votes on: 

• the modern $155 million-$175 million Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive building;  

• a $90 million “infill” building for the School of Law, and 

• the $266 million Li Ka-Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Services, which replaces the demolished Earl Warren Jr. Hall. 

The first of the three votes scheduled for the 11:50 a.m. session at UC Santa Barbara is approval of the $12 million preliminary planning phase of the art museum project. 

The structure, designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito, would rise along the western side of Oxford Street between Center and Addison streets. The committee is scheduled to raise the $3.5 million in donor funding approved in January to $12 million for completion of the preliminary planning process. 

According to the proposed budget amendment which the committee will consider, fund-raising efforts have already collected $12.4 million in cash and $15.6 million more in pledges, leaving a balance to be raised between $127 million and $147 million. 

Action on the new health science building is needed to increase the budget of the 110,000-square-foot structure that will rise on the eastern side of Oxford Street not far from the new museum. 

In addition to covering $9.5 million in inflationary costs for construction, the funds will also cover radiation decontamination and disposal of material contaminated both by radiological equipment used in labs in the old building and of windowsill tiles that were discovered to have elevated levels of natural radioactivity. 

The funds also cover temporary relocation of the exhaust system of the facility’s underground animal testing facility. 

Unlike most new construction, which is funded mostly by public and corporate donations, $52.7 million of the structure’s budget comes from state funding, plus an additional $20.2 million from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, which was supported by state voters who passed an initiative backing stem cell research. 

Action on the law school expansion building will consist of approval of an addendum to the university Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) 2020 as well as approval of the design. 

Earlier in the morning, the committee will meet in closed session to hear updates on five lawsuits challenging projects they have already approved-four of them in Berkeley. 

Two of the suits challenge projects at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a third challenges approval of the lab’s 2025 LRDP. 

The fourth action is the ongoing legal battles over the proposed gym west of Memorial Stadium and other projects in the southeast quadrant of the main campus. 

The agenda for the meeting as well as the specific proposals may be found at www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/regmeet/july08.html.