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UC Berkeley Press Release

Sproul Plaza renovation underway

– Sproul Plaza, the historic gateway to the University of California, Berkeley, and the heart of the campus for student activities and events, will temporarily close as a major renovation project gets underway to improve plaza safety and accessibility.

Cracked, pot-holed asphalt pavement currently covers much of the area known as Upper Sproul Plaza, creating many safety hazards.

The renovation plan will entail repaving the area with concrete pavers, repairing bulletin boards, resurfacing benches, and resetting rings around the bases of the distinctive plane trees in the plaza. The project is scheduled to begin March 22, the first day of spring break, and to be complete June 25.

"Pedestrian safety and improved disabled accessibility are the driving reasons behind the upgrade," said Jim Horner, the campus's landscape architect. "It's been over 40 years since the original asphalt was installed. Areas have settled, tree roots have heaved some sections of pavement, handrails are wobbly, roofs on the message boards are sagging, and the result is a less-than-ideal first impression for a world class institution.

"There is no doubt that the plaza will look better, but the corrections were carefully conceived to retain the original character of the design by Lawrence Halprin, considered one of the foremost landscape architects in the country, who also designed Levi Plaza, Ghirardelli Square and Justin Herman Plaza."

Sather Gate and the brick area that surrounds the plaza fountain will remain intact. No trees will be removed.

All of Upper Sproul Plaza will be closed and gated during the three-month-long project. Activities that would ordinarily occur there - student rallies, dance performances, political speeches, student group tabling - will move to Lower Sproul Plaza, the area just to the southwest.

Karen Kenney, the campus's dean of students, will work with student leaders to relocate student activities.

The exact area scheduled for renovation stretches, north to south, from just below Sather Gate to the barriers just north of the Bancroft Way-Telegraph Avenue intersection. East to west, the area reaches from the Sproul Hall steps to the steps leading to Lower Sproul Plaza.

Details of the project include workers removing the aging asphalt, regrading the surface underneath, setting new tree rings, replacing defective drain and sewer lines, and installing sturdy and attractive concrete paver blocks.

Consistent with the UC Berkeley's goal of using environmentally-friendly building practices, the pavers can be removed and replaced when future repair work or underground work is necessary. The project will also refurbish benches and kiosks within Upper Sproul Plaza.