The US Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has given $3 million in pre-disaster mitigation funds to UC Berkeley so that it can retrofit the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union building (pictured above).
According to FEMA, the funds provide 35% of the project’s total costs which are estimated at $8.7 million. The University of California will cover the remaining balance. The funded project consists of strengthening existing structures in the Tilden Room and Pauley Ballroom, including installing a structural brace, adding and reinforcing concrete walls, and replacing plate glass windows with tempered or laminated glass.
A report by California Watch published in March highlighted the extensive work that still needs to be done by UCB, and the University of California generally, to make many of its building seismically sound. It concluded that UCB had the most seismically unsafe structures of any public university in California.
Parts of the campus sit on the Hayward Fault, and engineers say 71 occupied buildings would sustain significant structural damage and endanger people’s lives in a major quake. UCB estimates it will spend more than $1 billion on seismic replacements and repairs through 2019.
The Martin Luther King Jr. student union building was designed by Professor of Architecture Vernon DeMars and built in 1961. As well as the rooms being retrofitted, it contains a multicultural center, a computer lab, a bookstore, restaurants, an art studio, lounges and a pub.
Nobody from UCB’s capital projects department was available for comment today because they were spending a good portion of the day in meetings about seismic retrofitting.