NEWS RELEASE, 10/20/98

UC Berkeley receives $42 million grant from FEMA to make four of its older buildings earthquake safe

By Robert Sanders, Public Affairs

BERKELEY -- The University of California, Berkeley, today (Tuesday, Oct. 20) received a $42 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to design and build seismic retrofitting for four campus buildings that are vulnerable in a major earthquake.

Earlier this year, the Berkeley campus had applied to FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for funds to help design and build seismic retrofitting for Hildebrand Hall, Latimer Hall, the Samuel Silver Space Sciences Laboratory and Barrows Hall, and was optimistic that an award from FEMA would jump-start the retrofit process.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl said he was elated when he was informed that FEMA was awarding the campus an unprecedented $42 million for the four projects.

"This is an exceptional opportunity for us to accelerate the critically needed seismic safety work on campus," said Berdahl. "It's great to see FEMA investing funding in preventive work that can help our university avoid much more costly repairs after the fact."

The grant also is a challenge to the campus, since the university must design the retrofitting for each building and start the construction process within the next two years.

The award comes with the stipulation that UC Berkeley find matching funds to accomplish the projects. The $42 million from FEMA covers more than half of the estimated cost, about 56 percent. At the moment, the campus is reviewing available options for these matching funds.

The projects to be funded by the FEMA grant are:

o $16.7 million for seismic safety corrections to Hildebrand Hall, a building completed in 1966 and housing many laboratories in the College of Chemistry, as well as the Chemistry Library.

o $9.8 million for seismic safety corrections to Latimer Hall, built in 1963. Latimer houses teaching laboratories and lecture halls for the College of Chemistry, plus the Office of the Dean.

o $8.1 million for retrofit of the Samuel Silver Space Sciences Laboratory, located at the top of the Berkeley Hills on Upper Centennial Drive. The building, completed in 1966, contains laboratories for many NASA-funded projects, and is the headquarters for several satellite control centers, including mission control for the Fast Auroral SnapshoT (FAST) small-class explorer satellite.

o $7.3 million for retrofit of Barrows Hall, an eight-story building now home to various departments, including political science, sociology and ethnic studies, in the College of Letters and Science. It was originally built in 1964 to house the business school.

The four structures were selected from a long list of campus buildings that will need seismic retrofitting in the next 20 years to upgrade them to an acceptable level of life safety. They were chosen because of their high occupancy and the large amount of federally funded research conducted in these facilities.

Today Chancellor Berdahl and representatives of a dozen universities from around the country also met with FEMA director James Lee Witt to discuss a disaster resistant universities program.

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