First Student Building to Be Renovated After Nearly 100 Years

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By 2006, the historic Senior Hall is expected to be restored and converted into a student lounge, in time for its centennial.

Senior Hall, traditionally considered headquarters for the Order of the Golden Bear, was the first student building on the UC Berkeley campus.

The restoration will cost between $4 million and $4.5 million, and the order has proposed a bill asking ASUC to contribute $15,000 every year until the restoration is completed. The order would not disclose who is provide the rest of the funds for the project.

Order of the Golden Bear Warden Michael Lin proposed the bill at the ASUC meeting Wednesday, though it was not up for consideration.

"Berkeley is a big population in a small campus, and it doesn't have too much potential for expanding outward," said the bill's co-sponsor, Walking Walrus Senator Anand Upadhye. "We really have to focus on securing what we have on the Berkeley campus."

But some senators said financing the restoration should not fall to ASUC.

"I think the bill has good intentions," said APPLE Senator Daniel Frankenstein. "But I don't think it's something student fees should pay for. It's really the state's and university's responsibility to fund restoration."

Others also raised concerns that money spent on the hall will compete with renovations on the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, run by the ASUC Auxiliary.

"If it does compete for funds with the renovation of the student union, I would like to see us take care of (the student union) first," said ASUC Auxiliary Director Tom Cordi.

But Lin said efforts to restore Senior Hall would not compete with the student union because ASUC would not provide full funding. He said adding more student unions on campus would be beneficial to students.

"This is not a campus that has a lot of places for students to hang out," said Lin. "I don't believe by having an extra lounge, we'll be competing."

The proposed improvements to the hall include a library collection featuring books, displays and documents on the history of UC Berkeley, focusing on student life.

"The history of the university is a unique history in American higher education," Lin said.

He described the restoration as an important way to enrich campus and student life.

"I just think it's great for the first student building to be again a student building," he said.

The building was originally designed by architect John Galen Howard, known for designing other UC Berkeley landmarks such as the Campanile, Wheeler Hall and Doe Library.

Senior Hall was nearly destroyed in the early 1970s to make way for a new wing of the Faculty Club but was placed on the National Register of Historic Places hours before the bulldozers were scheduled to demolish the building.

Lacking earthquake and fire safeguards as well as wheelchair accessibility, the building has since seen limited use because it is not legally open for full-time use.

Renovation plans include replacing the roof and damaged logs, installing a fire alarm and sprinkler system and rebuilding the foundation while still preserving the historical integrity of the building.

"The idea is to keep as true to this form as possible," Lin said. "It's definitely a unique building."

In years past, the building was the site of Senior Singings, ASUC meetings and Pappy Waldorf's pre-football game pep talks to the teams.

ASUC is expected to vote on the proposed bill at next Wednesday's meeting.


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