Studies question structural design of Lower Sproul

Photo: Because of efforts to redevelop Lower Sproul, officials are determining the weight the plaza can bear. Meanwhile, a ban on large trucks in the plaza will be enforced.
Brenna Alexander/Staff
Because of efforts to redevelop Lower Sproul, officials are determining the weight the plaza can bear. Meanwhile, a ban on large trucks in the plaza will be enforced.

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Studies conducted by engineers in the early design phase of the Lower Sproul Plaza renovation project have led the Department of Facilities Services to raise concerns about the ability of the plaza to support significant weight.

In an April 12 letter from the department to groundskeepers, Cal Performances, Capital Projects and various tradespeople such as electricians, the department stated that any vehicle larger than a small golf cart is prohibited from driving on the plaza, which also serves as the roof of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union parking garage.

"There is a structural study going on on the whole complex as a part of the whole Lower Sproul redesign," said Dave Johnson, assistant director in project management with facilities services. "Until the study is done, it might be prudent to prohibit large trucks from going out there."

The Lower Sproul Plaza deck was built in the 1960s and is made up of several different pieces of adjacent buildings that fit together to form the roof deck, according to Johnson. He said that a report will be released in the near future detailing exactly how the various pieces fit together, which will help to determine the actual weight the plaza can withstand.

Despite the vehicle prohibition, a truck was allowed on Lower Sproul in the early morning of April 16 in preparation for Cal Day. According to Millicent Chaney - student affairs officer for the ASUC auxiliary who said she was not aware of the April 12 letter sent by Department of Facilities Services - a truck drove onto the plaza in the early morning to unload tables and chairs. Chaney said that table and chair rentals were coordinated under the Office of Public Affairs, who could not be reached for comment.

Johnson said he is not aware of any concern for large crowds congregating on Lower Sproul.

"The only thing that has changed is not wanting vehicles driving around on the deck ... It's just being cautious," he said.

According to ASUC Auxiliary Director Nadesan Permaul, the ASUC Auxiliary is not concerned about safety of crowds for their SUPERB performances and other activities at this point.

"We have many activities that have lots of individuals which represent a lot of weight on the roof of the parking garage, which is Lower Sproul," Permaul said. "We do understand that the focused weight of a vehicle is of particular concern."

Hank Chapot, a gardener for UC Berkeley for the past four years, said that it has always been an unwritten rule that large vehicles are not allowed to drive on the plaza roof deck.

"It's been kind of gossip that the place is not safe, and periodically they tell us not to drive down there," Chapot said. "Now we have the strict rule of no vehicles in the plaza."

Noor Al-Samarrai of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.

Tags: ASUC AUXILIARY, LOWER SPROUL PLAZA RENOVATION


Contact Kelsey at [email protected]



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