Contents of Condemned Warren Hall Are Forgotten

Anne Bartlett,
The Pioneer

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More than a year after a mass exodus of faculty and campus services from the condemned Warren Hall building, the lights are still on night and day and dozens of desks, book shelves and office chairs still furnish the vacant 150,000 square foot, 13-floor landmark.

E. Guy Warren Hall, the structure of postcard familiarity on the CSU East Bay Hayward campus, towers on the hilltop overlooking the San Francisco Bay.

The 40-year-old former administration hub was condemned for failing to comply with California’s state mandated earthquake codes.

The College Management, Executive Department and related offices moved 18 months ago to a new Student Services Administration (SSA) building, inaugurated in June 2010.

“The building is empty but it is still being used,” said Christopher Brown, associate vice president and executive director for Enterprising Operations and Foundation. “There is a data lab there […] you see the antennas [and satellites] at the top up there, those are used […]. If you see any lights on, they are egress safety lighting.”

Warren Hall still stands even after being condemned.

Brown explained that if maintenance were to go into the structure, they should be able to find their way around.  The lighting that is visible is necessary to keep up with what he called “certain codes.”

Brown could not immediately say how much power the building is consuming.  Estimates of the energy powering elevators and offices as well as utility operating costs for the vacant building could not be identified by other offices.

The average single family household in Hayward, around 1,000 square feet, commands a utility bill of between $100 to $400, according to www.city-data.com.

A PG&E study titled “Economic and Demographic Factors Affecting California Residential Energy Use,” estimates that a 1,000 square foot residence uses 5,000 kWh per year. Rates effective as of 2012 estimate baseline use at $0.12845 for each kWh. At this calculation, a 150,000 square foot structure would use 750,000,000 kWh per year at a cost of $96,000,000.

According to Brown, Warren Hall is expected to be completely demolished. The idea of seismic retrofit, or partial demolition, according to a proposal by Huntsman Architectural Group, also carrying a price tag of between nine million to $14 million dollars, has been dropped.

A recent investigative look into the empty tower found at least two floors, still with partially furnished offices, including book shelves, desks and office chairs outdated but in usable condition.

Brown, however, said, “There isn’t anything just sitting up there [in Warren Hall]. All that [furniture] is 20 to 30 years old, so the stuff that was worth salvaging has been redeployed to other areas […] The SSA didn’t get any of that stuff, they got new furniture but anything worth keeping was redeployed to other places on campus.”

An Internet search for “sell used office furniture” produced no fewer than seven locations within a 10-mile radius of the campus that accepted second-hand items, some even offering competitive compensation.

Lola, who asked that her last name be withheld, a representative for East Bay Surplus Sales, confirmed their interest in used office furniture.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Sometimes we transition items from one party to another without making any money ourselves. It’s about helping those in need […]. We can do yard sales for people, or we can just post pictures of their stuff online to sell,” she explained.

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