Administration building could receive Life Safety Upgrades by 2010

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

The Administration Building has been a staple on the SDSU campus since it was fully completed in 1918, but in recent times, the aging building has been deemed unsafe.

Officials plan to change that reality through Life Safety Upgrades. The upgrades, which will include installing fire alarm and sprinkler systems, were deemed necessary last year after a study found that the building was violating several codes. The upgrades were then approved during last year’s Legislative session.

“If a fire started, it would go very quickly,” said Mike Reger, vice president for administration. “We needed to do something for our safety and everyone else’s.”

In total, SDSU received $6.8 million from the Legislature to bring several buildings up to Life Safety standards; $1.8 million of that money will be used on the Administration Building project. At the December Board of Regents meeting, administrators requested to use $700,000 of SDSU’s Higher Education Facility Fund to upgrade the Administration Building, bringing the project’s total cost to $2.5 million. The Regents will make a final decision on possible fee increases at their April meeting.

“I think the Board will have no problems (passing) this,” Reger said.

SDSU will probably put the project out to bid in late February, with construction starting in March or early April, Dean Kattelmann, assistant vice president for facilities and services, said. The project is set to be complete in March 2010.

Apart from fire alarm and sprinkler systems, the Life Safety upgrades will include adding an enclosed stairwell to the northeast corner of the building, installing handicap-accessible bathrooms on each floor and putting a fire door on the elevator. Some levels of interior stairwells will have to be closed off to eliminate a chimney effect. In the current building setup, if a fire started on the first floor, smoke would be able to travel up the stairs to the third floor.

Some measures have already been taken to improve safety within the Administration Building. The balcony of Doner Auditorium was closed in late May 2008 after it failed to meet the 2006 International Fire, Building and Mechanical Codes and the 2005 International Electrical Code. The balcony will not reopen because money used for costly renovations could be put towards building a new theater, Kattelmann said.

Along with the safety upgrades, SDSU will use this as an opportunity to install efficient lighting in offices and do some cosmetic improvements, such as painting and carpet replacement within the Administration Building. The east entrances will be dressed up so that “there’s a nice, pleasing entry when you come from the east and west,” Kattelmann said.

The cornerstone for the Administration Building was laid in 1912, but due to a lack of money, only half the building was constructed at that time. The building – which currently holds several of the administrative offices that handle the day-to-day operations of the university – was completely finished in 1918.

“(The Administration Building) is part of the historical quad,” Kattelmann said. “It’s not a building we are going to walk away from.”