The Library was the centerpiece of learning on campus. A simple building in the shape of a square doughnut built around an all glass atrium garden. The building, is enclosed on all sides, except to the West where sliding glass doors open to a wide cantilevered balcony with a spectacular view of the Eel River Valley. The balcony became a favorite retreat for students that wanted to study outdoors and enjoy the Western afternoon sunset.
Over the pursuing years the District was able to get State bond funding to demolish and replace the original library and several other buildings on campus that were found to have seismic fault lines under them.
Just about the time the college was making plans to demolition the original library, then President Jeff Marsee, learned of recent action by the State Architect in the form of Senate Bill 588 that allowed for the possible saving of the library from the wreaking ball and ordered the design and engineering for a “Voluntary Seismic Upgrade” of the library to meet the new structural safety standards of SB588.
When advised by his architect and engineer, that they had received approval on the upgrade design, the President quickly went to his board of trustees to announce that they could save the centerpiece of the original campus design from demolition. The publicly elected Board of Trustees voted enthusiastically in support of saving the building and authorized the President to have the design and the construction documents completed for full approval and permitting by the State Architect.
Recently the architectural and engineering team, with the assistance of CR facility director Tim Flanagan achieved what no one believed possible they received a building permit from the State Architect, to make the library safe once again for use by students and faculty. The supervising structural engineer and former interim State Architect Howard “Chip” Smith said “I believe the College of the Redwood is the first Community College in California to utilize the new standards to save a campus building.”
There is never enough money to fix the buildings we already own. Even though we don’t realize it we are throwing a little bit of them away everyday. Before we know it, or want to realize it, they have deteriorated to the point where it is too expensive to fix them or more likely our desire to fix them is gone. We are always ready for the new buildings, just like a child with too many presents under the Christmas tree; it is not the value of the gift they desire so much it is more the experience of unwarping of the presents. Most builders feel this way, they don’t want to restore old buildings, they feel that is living in the past, and they want to be in the future building new things. They would rather demolition an old building to make space for something new.
SB 588 came to the rescue, as a common sense piece of legislation from the State that allows a structural engineer to evaluate the safety of a community college building the same way she would evaluate a building in the CSU or UC systems rather than apply the higher restrictions of elementary or high school buildings.
Our Community needs to applaud the foresight of the College leadership to take on this challenge and to set an example that it is good social policy to save our environment and to not participate in a throw away culture. What a better lesson to be learning as a student.