Historic Lawrence Laboratory Building Slated for Demolition

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The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory building that houses the Bevatron particle accelerator and is considered a historic landmark has been slated for demolition as early as this June.

The demolition of the building is expected to cost about $72 million and end in 2011, said Lauren Martinez, spokesperson for the Department of Energy.

The building, which has been out of use for 15 years, houses the remains of the Bevatron, the particle accelerator that was used to discover the antiproton in 1955 and helped the lab's researchers win four Nobel Prizes.

A DOE assessment concluded the demolition would not substantially impact the surrounding environment, clearing the path for the deconstruction process last week, she said.

Despite some Berkeley residents' concerns about the potential hazards of moving materials out of the building, Martinez said the public would not be at risk.

"Our highest concern is the safety of employees and the public, and we will use all precautions in moving materials from the site," she said.

Martinez added that the demolition was necessary since the building was not only deteriorating, but also required costly maintenance and failed to meet current safety codes, including seismic regulations.

Berkeley City Councilmember Gordon Wozniak agreed, noting that although the building is a landmark, the demolition is a reasonable move to make room for more up-to-date machinery.

"Our modern philosophy is to recycle things," he said, "It would be wasteful ... not to do it."

Burton Edwards, the former chair of the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission who helped establish the building site as a historical landmark, said the work done within the building would be better documented by a museum than by the continued existence of the building itself.

"While (the building) is representative of the events that took place, it was the machine inside and the people and the experiments that were the real contributors to the significance of the location," he said.

The lab plans to commemorate the site with a monument or display in the future, Martinez said.

Emily Martinez of The Daily

Californian contributed to this report.


Contact Rachel Gross at [email protected]

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