Construction Zone: Berkeley Law

The Semester Begins…..Fall, 2009

Welcome to the new semester.  How can this be happening in mid-August?  What happened to summer?  No matter, we are off to the races.

Over the summer, many changes were made in the building, from the completion of the lovely new terrace on the west end of the building to the socialst realist designof the east entrance to the library.  (Enjoy the latter, it will only last for a bit).  Kathleen Vanden Heuvel sent out an e-mail that did a great job summing up everything that you need to know.  In case you missed it, it is reprinted below.

Although it’s been difficult to maneuver through the law school building this summer (due to construction barriers) and difficult to find an open entrance (due to construction fences), the contractors got a huge amount of work done in the last three months.  They finished digging the giant hole in the south courtyard and in the process removed 33,000 cubic yards of dirt, enough (we are told) to build a sidewalk from the law school to Lake Tahoe. They laid down waterproofing, installed the drainage system, and poured the first of three concrete slabs.  Next week they will be pouring the second layer of concrete. (This is more interesting to watch than it sounds.  Really.)

The West Terrace (complete with multi-colored pavers) is now finished and looks fabulous.  Folks began using the new umbrella tables minutes after they were installed, suggesting that we had a pent up demand for patio furniture.  It will be a while before the trees (Chinese Elms for those tree aficionado among you) can offer much shade, but they are holding their own since being transplanted in July. Contractors constructed a new (straight) staircase on the south west side of the building and installed a lot of new bike racks to the north west of Boalt Hall. They also put the finishing touches on the Student Center with the installation of the double paned, etched glass in all the offices (more about the Student Center next week).

There have been significant changes in the library as well.  The contractors finished framing up two new classrooms in the library’s old East Reading Room.  These classrooms won’t be ready for fall, but the new hallway and the east entrance to the library are now open (though carpeting is not yet installed).  Note that the bathrooms and small study rooms that used to be inside the library’s East Reading Room are now outside of the library.  We’ve also moved the night and weekend entrance to the law library.  After 6:00 PM and/or on weekends use the West Terrace entrance, take the stairs or elevator to the 2nd floor and enter the library through the West door (near the Dean’s Office).

As Bob Berring mentioned last week, we decided to move some classes out of Boalt to the Hearst Field Annex (HFA) in order to avoid noise disruptions to classes.  We were told that all these HFA classrooms had AC, but it turns out some only have ventilation fans.  We’ll bring in more fans to help keep the spaces comfortable on warm days.

This should be an interesting year…..

Kathleen Vanden Heuvel
Associate Dean, Capital Projects

University of California

School of Law

Boalt Hall

Berkeley, CA 94720


fax: 510.642.9122


We thought it might be a good idea to let you know how the building project is going.  It has been pretty lonely around here.  Without the Bar Review courses being held here, the building is pretty quiet, but then it is all blocked off and filled with construction noise, so it is all for the best.  Here is the skinny.

The day after graduation our summer construction projects took off at full speed.  The contractors have almost finished digging the giant hole for the South Addition and will begin pouring the concrete shell for the new building in mid July.
During the first three weeks after graduation contractors tore out the stairs in front of the Student Center and installed a second layer of glass in the Center offices.  They are now installing the new pavers, lighting and planters on West Terrace.  The entrance on the north end of the West Terrace (near classrooms 12 and 14) is now open (though not yet wheelchair accessible). With a bit of luck the West Terrace and both entry doors will be open by the time school starts.   The West Terrace should be very fine indeed.
If you have been inside the school this summer  you will have noticed the various temporary walls that impede your progress through the building.  The south stair case near classrooms 100 and 105 was torn out and there is currently a serious wall that blocks off the hallway near these  classrooms.  The fire marshal required this temporary wall because he didn’t want folks trying to exit via the non-existent south staircase. The east entrance to the library  is also walled off, a result of our decision to transform the East Reading Room (the one past the Copy Center that has been our most remote province) into two 32 person classrooms.  Both these temporary walls should be gone by the time the new 1L class arrives on August 13.  If the stars align, the two new classrooms will be ready for the fall.
We’ll be updating the building website soon with more pictures:

Have a good summer!


Getting Into the Building This Summer

I am setting out below an e-mail written by Kathleen Vanden Heuvel, wearing her Associate Dean for Capital Projects hat.  Here is the Executive Summary:  Beginning the day after graduation, the consstruction folks will have free reign.  The only ways into the building will be door by Simon Hall, the door on the north side by the bear statue, the door from the East garage and the doors between the JSP Building and the North Addition.  The library entrance on the east side, past the Registrar’s Office, be closed.  You will have to enter through the doors by the Dean’s Office.

Here is the e-mail with full details.

There will be a lot of construction going on this summer and this will affect how you can enter the building and also how you cross back and forth, east to west.  I will do my best to explain what is going to happen, but I am afraid you will have to experience it before it will make any sense.  The real purpose of this email is to put you on alert so that when you encounter a blocked entrance or strange wall in the middle of a corridor it won’t come as a total surprise.

On the WEST side of the building all entrances will either be closed off or be difficult to reach.

West Side Closures

  • Southwest entrance and staircase (near classroom 100)–CLOSED UNTIL AUGUST 13:
  • Northwest staircase (near classroom 110)  CLOSED UNTIL AUGUST 13  Note: The door will be open but you must enter from and exit to the north east parking lot.  You will not be able to go down the stairs to College Plaza.
  • West terrace entrance by classrooms 12 & 14–CLOSED UNTIL JUNE 8
  • Classrooms 100, 105 and 107–the hallway will be blocked off with a temporary wall–CLOSED UNTIL AUGUST 13
  • The bike racks in front of Wurster will also be unavailable over the summer.

These West Side Closures are going to make coming and going to the Telegraph shuttle stop (on Bancroft by the news stands) a bit of a bother until June 8, when the West Terrace door opens again.  There just was no viable alternative, so allow yourself a bit more time to get to the stop–the shuttle departs on the quarter hour.

The following entrances will be open and accessible as usual:

  • Bancroft / Simon (near Goldberg)
  • East Garage
  • Door between back of JSP and Boalt Hall (north east side of building)
  • Door from parking lot near Archeology building–enter by bear sculpture

On the EAST side of the building there will also be a lot going on.  The library’s East Reading Room is being transformed into two 30+ person classrooms.  As a result the East entrance into the library will also be closed off starting around May 19 and continuing until August 13.  This means that if you are, e.g., in Zeb and you want to come to the library or to the dean’s office you’ll need to go down to the 1st floor, cross over to the west end, and then take the elevator or stairs back up to the 2nd floor.

New exiting maps have been posted in the building, and the exiting plan has been fully vetted by the Fire Marshal and Environmental  Health and Safety.  We will also be posting signs to help you navigate.  Nonetheless, all these changes can be confusing, so please let me know if you have questions.

If you have read this far you deserve an endurance prize.  Like I said, it is difficult to explain all this, but you will know it when you see it.  It is going to be a race to the finish to get all the entrances and classrooms open in time for Fall Orientation, so our policy this summer is to stay out of the way and let the construction folks do their thing as quickly and efficiently as possible.


Kathleen Vanden Heuvel
Associate Dean, Capital Projects

Director, Law Library

Adjunct Professor of Law

University of California

School of Law

Boalt Hall

Berkeley, CA 94720


fax: 510.642.9122

The Beat Goes On

The Student Center is open.  Workmen will be putting finishing touches on the place for weeks to come and some of the key card access  system still leaves a bit to be desired, but the very snazzy space is now available.  There is a common area for studying and offices for journals and organizations.  When the West Patio is finished it should be a primo location.  Who even remembers the long delay and last minute glitches?   Well, ok, perhaps you do, but the result is a good one and I love happy endings.

The giant excavation in what used to be the courtyard is moving along by fits and starts.  Naturally once they began to dig they found that the foundation of the existing building was not exactly what they expected.  If you heard a lot of noise yesterday, that was a product of this discovery.  No one knows for sure what this will all mean, but they are looking into it.  As soon as I know something, I will pass it along.

Happy Chinese New Year.  It is the Year of the Ox.   Looks like a good fit to me.


Spring Semester: We are off and running….

Some very warm winds have kicked off the new semester. Over the Break the contractors worked hard to get the noisiest work done. It looks like they succeeded. But there is no doubt that challenging days lie ahead. I sent an e-mail to the student body this morning that listed five items worth knowing. They are set out below. BTW, this is the week that the law school is in session and the rest of campus is not. Do your banking and University business now before the hoards return. Here are the five…..

1. The long-awaited mail slots are now in place. You will find them just outside the Computer Labs in the Law Library. There should be a folder for each student. This will allow folks to leave and receive messages in paper form. (Paper messaging is reportedly the latest innovation from Apple. Have you used iPaper?) Check it out.

2. It looks like the new Student Area will be done on time. Everyone should be moving back from Hearst Annex as planned. Lots of coordination and logistics will be involved in getting everyone into the space and set up, but it is actually happening.

3. The Registrar’s Office will be moving from its current location to the MoFo Room, most likely in February, while its normal space is remodeled. There should be no major disruption in service, though the Registrar’s staff will have to do a good bit of improvisation. We will keep you posted concerning the relevant dates.

4. Room 140 is usable but not quite complete. it looks a bit unfinished now because the media upgrades are, well, unfinished. It will get much snazzier before long.

5. The construction project is now within the control of the Campus and the contractor. No one is sure what the coming months will hold, but we will do everything possible to make things work. Having never been associated with a major construction project that did not include several major surprises, I am sure that we will encounter our share. I will keep you posted so that you know what I know. As ever, if you encounter problems or have questions, let me know.

The Blair Witch Construction Project

Our construction project has begun to resemble The Blair Witch Project, the horror movie where you never actually see the monster. After weeks of preparing you for the intense noise of the early days of demolition and all of the law school’s efforts at ameliorating the problem, the first week of exams is passing with no monster in sight. Word is that the construction people are having trouble with the bond that they must post. Each day we think that the work might start the next day. Still, we hear no monster. But this is a big budget movie, so come it will. Honest. And when it does begin, there will be big noise and much scrambling. It is crucial that the noisy work begin so that it is done when classes start in January.  So we rooting for it to begin.

Enjoy the sweet quiet before someone opens the basement door and the monster emerges.

December Song

The Dean’s e-mail of November 25 did a fine job of setting out what is about to happen here at Boalt. I hope that you followed his link and checked out the video of the giant air hammer. Quite a sight.  We are doing everything we can to provide work-arounds in light of the oncoming onslaught of noise, but I am certain that the unexpected is waiting to happen. We will try to stay on our toes. Check the Library web site for alternative study areas during the day. Word is that the first few weeks of demolition will be the worst. The plan is to complete that part of the process by the beginning of the new semester. Work must stop at 3:30pm each day, so it will be normal, well, as normal as it ever gets, around here in the evenings.

Take a deep breath, it is that time of the year again when it all comes together.  Good luck.

November 20th Update: Noise, Bikes and Mail

1.  This morning, Thursday, Nov. 20, they tried an experiment to see how bad the noise in the library would be when they drilled out the concrete benches, steps etc. in the Courtyard.  This process, which occupies the first few weeks of the project,  is the worst part of the construction for  producing raw noise.  Well, it was pretty, as in really,  loud.  The Main Reading Room of the Law Library and the Computer Lab area were both seriously compromised.  The drilling is scheduled to begin December 8.  Exams will not start until the workmen are done for the day, so that should not be a problem, but it will be virtually impossible to study in the Main Reading Room or to use the Computer Lab during the work day.  The Library folks are identifying other places that you can study during the day.  Here is the link to alternative study sites.

The link appears on the Law Library webpage under the Exam Resources tab.

We will keep you posted as we identify new possibilities.

2.  New bike racks are being put in along the south wall of Wuster Hall, the builiding adjacent to Boalt.  There are racks there now, but the capacity is going to be greatly  increased.  Once that is done, which is scheduled to be next Wednesday, Nov. 26, they will close the current bike parking area at the west end of Boalt.  Immediately thereafter they will start construction work in that area.  This means that you have to get you bicycle out of there before the end of next Wednesday.   Seriously.  The good news is that there will be a net gain in bike parking with the Wurster Addition.

3.  The promised student mail slots are almost here and only await aseembly and labeling.  The mystery of why these took so long to arrive may never be unraveled, but the story will have a happy ending.  Soon.  Honest.

4.  On a final note, the summer 2008 Bar Exam results are scheduled to be released to the exam takers on Friday, Nov. 21, with the general public getting access to the list on Sunday.  Let us all send a good wish to those members of the Class of 2008 who are nervously awaiting what we hope will be good news.


The Heart of the Matter

Mid-November is always tough, and this year Thanksgiving falls on the last possible date. The semester slides right into the holiday. Everyone looks a little punchy these days and we all have good reason.

The building projects roll on. The double paned windows are now installed in the Main Reading Room of the Law Library. These will protect us from noise in the spring semester, or so they promise us. The washing of the outside of the bulidng has gone off without major problems.. On the other hand, someone ruptured a steam pipe which has meant no heat in some parts of the building. It has been a bear to repair, but they promise that it will be fixed by Friday. They also tell me that the weather should warm up a bit tomorrow and that will help. It is no fun to try to teach Contracts to students who are wearing coats and shivering, I shudder to think what it must be like to try to learn Contracts, or anything else, under those conditions.

Major demolition work begins in early December. The concrete benches, the outside pillars and the courtyard and steps all have to go. Concerned that it might play out like this,we scheduled all finals to start at 4pm to avoid the noise. (Work stops at 3:30pm) Because of laws about noise, the crews cannot work at night or on the week ends, but if this works out, the worst will be over when the next semester starts. The Law Library folks are going to work to find quiet places to study once the noise starts. More on that to follow.

The mail slots are almost here. Almost.

Take a deep breath, the semester is picing up momentum.


November Begins

Halloween has come and gone, we all gained an hour of sleep when we set back the clocks over the week end and the election finally comes to an end tomorrow. A lot’s going on.

The new floor is installed in the West Basement. Given my total lack of aesthetic sense, I will trust the judgment of others, who tell me that it is very fine. The student areas on that level that are still being renovated received the same floor. Its completion is a good sign. Sorry about the mixed messages at the end of last week about the installation of the new floor, we wanted to be sure that no one was cut off from their books. I figure it is better to act fast to warn folks, then try and fix the problem. At least there is a happy ending this time.

After a week’s delay, workmen are now chaning the windows in the Main Reading Room of the law library. Double paned glass, designed to deaden the construction sound, is being installed. The workmen come between midnight and 8am to minimize the disruption in the room.

We hope for good news on bicycle parking soon. Concerns about bicycle theft have been raised. We are in touch with UC Police who tell us that indeed there currently is a rash of bicycle thefts on campus. They have just made some arrests, but they know better than to think that they have solved the problem. We will try to work with them to provide better security.