Renovation of Hearst Mining Circle Nearing Completion

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After 10 years of reconstruction, the Hearst Mining Circle will be completed at the end of the month with many of its original features restored.

The circle, which is scheduled to open by the end of this month at the latest, was initially closed off for use as a storage area for the retrofitting and renovation of the Hearst Memorial Mining Building, which was re-opened in September 2002.

"We didn't necessarily intend to keep it covered this long but the start of Stanley (Hall) had presented itself, so we waited till Stanley was finished," said Christine Shaff, communications manager for campus facilities services. "Its design was tied into the Hearst Mining building ... so it's one of our historic landscapes."

The $400,000 restoration of the circle, which began in August 2007, entailed restoring the original reflecting pond and circular sidewalk and adding a pathway across the circle, said Jim Horner, campus landscape architect and project manager for Capital Projects.

"The design was intended to follow the original plan prepared by John Galen Howard in 1914, when the Mining Circle first opened," Horner said. "The budget allowed us to restore the reflecting pool, and created an automated fill system. Before, gardeners would just throw a hose into the pool to fill it up."

The new pond also changed the drain system to go from the storm drain to the sanitary sewer instead of into Strawberry Creek, where sewage originally ended up, Horner said.

"The final work they need to do is detailing on the outside edges of the pond, and they need to do a little more work on the floor of it in the actual pool," Shaff said. "There's not a whole lot of work that's left."

The mining circle used to be a popular point from which to view San Francisco Bay, said Steven Finacom, planning analyst for Capital Projects.

"The vision for the mining circle was that you'd stand there and look west ... and you could see the horizon over the bay perfectly framed," Finacom said.

There are plans, though no date has been set, to replace Evans Hall with two smaller buildings so that the bay can once again be seen from the circle, he said.

"The concept is that the Mining Circle should be this big open space in an active plaza of that part of campus, with the buildings facing into it from the side," Finacom said. "That part of campus has a lot of development so it deserves that open space."

Alumnus Erin Proudfoot said it was disappointing when the area was first covered up.

"This was before Memorial Glade, so there was not that big expanse of greenery," Proudfoot said. "In that part of campus that was pretty much the only green part there was. It's not nearly as big, but it was definitely a place to sit and read."

The circle was scheduled to finish in November 2007, but was delayed due to poor weather conditions.

"It's a nice open space up in a dense part of campus that a lot of people pass through, so it's nice to have it restored, to have it green and open again," Shaff said.

Future plans for another pathway, additional bench-seating, lighting and planting in the circle depend on people's interest in funding the plans, Horner said.

"We hope to continue working to fully restore the circle," Horner said. "The mining circle never had seating areas before, but I think students would enjoy the space the way they do Memorial Glade."


Sameea Kamal covers development and capital projects. Contact her at [email protected]

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