Classrooms Come Together for Kalmanovitz Opening

Window Restoration work and skylight installations are underway at Kalmanovitz Hall

Kalmanovitz construction

Contractors have turned to priming the interior walls with an initial coat of paint, all part of the 80-year-old building’s multimillion-dollar renovation.

With the seismic retrofit work complete, state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories, and faculty offices have begun to take shape inside the redesigned structure, as window and façade work continues on the exterior in an effort to wed the building’s historic past to its future. The retrofit design goes beyond merely meeting current earthquake safety standards. The new blueprint more fully exploits the building’s space, improves energy efficiency, and brings “smart” technology to classrooms—including video capabilities and wireless computer access, according to Michael London, University of San Francisco assistant vice president of facilities management.

Pushed back from a projected fall 2007 opening, Kalmanovitz is now scheduled to be occupied in August. “We’re into the phase where we’re putting everything back into the building,” London said.

Named for the Paul and Lydia Kalmanovitz Foundation—a Bay Area philanthropic trust that donated one-third of the estimated $30 million cost for the renovation—the building will feature classrooms, faculty offices, and laboratories for language learning, writing, media, and psychology. Striving to wring the most from the 100,000-square-foot building, the new design incorporates several hallway meeting spaces for students and teachers, complete with whiteboards, tables, and wireless hotspots, London said.

Other highlights include a rooftop sculpture garden and a main entrance set off from above by a multistory glass atrium connecting the old Kalmanovitz annex to Cowell Hall. The grand entrance will feature a terraced courtyard, heated marble seating, and landscaping, while the adjacent Gill Theatre has been demolished to accommodate office space.

In bringing Kalmanovitz into the 21st century, large parts of the building’s historical look are coming along for the ride. New energy efficient windows have been designed to replicate the building’s original paned glass, while many wooden windows are being meticulously restored by hand. The building’s façade, undergoing repair and restoration, will maintain its overall appearance, including the inscription on the outer wall “Scientia and Philosphia,” London said.

Kalmanovitz’s entrance on Fulton Street will be restored and reopened after being boarded up for years. To bolster the building’s atmosphere, two historic portals, donated by the de Young Museum, will be installed in the entry and courtyard between Kalmanovitz and Cowell halls.

On top of new energy-saving windows, high-efficiency lighting, rooftop solar panels, skylights, and insulated outer walls (a touch that some builders decide against to save money in Northern California’s mild climate) are just some of the building’s environmentally friendly elements, London said.

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