The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

    Stevenson Hall renovations are finally underway after years of consideration

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    While almost all Sonoma State staff and students are forced to stay away from campus due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, renovations of the iconic Stevenson Hall have begun.

    Stevenson Hall is a 140,000 square foot building that has represented Sonoma State University with pride since 1967. The three-story-tall building has held hundreds, if not thousands, of classes over the years and is home to offices for the Business & Economics, Education, select Extended & International offices, and Social Sciences departments. 

    The building has served students and faculty alike for over five decades. Named after Adlai Stevenson II, former Governor of Illinois and an Ambassador to the United Nations. The building was one of the first constructed at Sonoma State. As of November 10, 2020, the ground broke on a massive renovation project for the aging building. 

    In celebration of the groundbreaking of Stevenson Hall, President Judy Sakaki said in a video presentation, “The new Stevenson will accommodate more students who are pursuing the dream of a college degree. And by providing closer proximity to specialized instruction space, the new Stevenson will make day-to-day life more seamless for our faculty and our staff.” 

    Construction is underway to update these classrooms into a modern haven for students. Many of the dated aspects of Stevenson Hall were struggling to keep pace with modern times as tech fell behind compared to other classrooms on campus such as those in the Shultz Library and in Salazar Hall. With a full renovation planned, there will be more student and faculty friendly options that will allow for innovation and inspiration. Some features include expanded use of computers and projectors in the classroom as well as improved spatial efficiency. 

    Not only is there a focus on innovation for the building, but the goal is also to make a fully collegiate and educational building with more environmentally friendly offerings. 

    According to Truebeck Construction’s website, the intention of the remodel, “includes [a] full systems replacement and exterior building and site improvements. The renovation to Stevenson Hall will accommodate classrooms, offices, conference rooms, common areas and services and utility spaces/rooms. Sustainability is a critical component to this project, with improving environmental quality and reducing resource utilization (energy and water) a primary focus that will lead towards LEED Gold certification.” 

    With these additions, the building will run more efficiently. In recent years, the building had seen less and less use due to its rapidly deteriorating state. An asbestos problem the building experienced became a concern as increased warnings were placed on the entrances to the buildings in September 2019. Since that point, there was a higher push towards fully updating Stevenson. 

    Lawsuits centered around the asbestos were released in 2017. In an article from the Press Democrat, staff writer Paul Payne explained, “[Whistleblower Thomas Sargent was awarded] $387,895 for mental suffering, emotional distress and lost compensation… About $725,000 was to be dispersed among the 231 teachers, administrative assistants and other university employees who worked in Stevenson Hall from May 2013 to March 2015.”

    The California Environmental Quality Act made this information readily available when discussing the intentions of the remodel, “The project is a renovation of the existing 1967 Stevenson Hall building to bring it up to current code (fire/life and safety, accessibility, and seismic codes) and to allow hazardous materials abatement.” 

    A large portion of the renovation is the plan to increase the overall seat count for classes, which could allow for a higher overall attendance of SSU and potential larger class sizes. 

    The removal of all faculty offices would make Stevenson Hall the only all-academic based building on campus. The Stevenson Hall webpage reads, the overall intention of the project is the, “Creation of “one-stop shops” both for students and faculty by designating the first floor of Schulz as a student academic services center and co-locating the Faculty Center, Office of Research, Center for Environmental Inquiry, and Center for Community Engagement in Salazar.” 

    There is a higher interest in also making the first floor a shopping experience similar to that of Charlie Brown Cafe. The design outline shows a small shopping establishment for stalls or smaller booths akin to that of Toast, located between Stevenson and Darwin, this small booth that sells snacks, coffee, and scantrons through the early hours of the day. 

    Students show concern for the process though, the construction has continually been delayed due to Covid-19. Phase II – New Construction is set to just begin from February 2021 – May 2022 which has caused confusion.

    Johnny Ryall, a fifth-year at Sonoma State said, “That was the building with asbestos right? It makes sense but that won’t help the prison like look from the outside. Since that building isn’t being used right now and won’t be for this semester or most likely any summer classes, I feel like remodeling should be on the back burner at least until summer.” 

    From 1967 to 2020, Stevenson Hall has stood as a landmark of SSU serving the needs as a harbor for education. Stevenson Hall is set to finish construction for a grand opening in August 2022. The groundbreaking is only three months old, and demolition should be ending within the coming days. With bated breath, all eyes are on SSU to successfully create a safer and updated learning experience for students.

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