The college is currently awaiting approval on funding to replace the U Building, which was abandoned after being deemed structurally unsafe in 2012, officials said.

PCC's Armen Sarafian Hall, also known as the U-Building, has been abandoned since the Summer of 2011 due to being unsafe in the case of an earthquake.
PCC’s Armen Sarafian Hall, also known as the U-Building, has been abandoned since the Summer of 2011 due to being unsafe in the case of an earthquake. (Christopher Martinez/Courier)

“[The U Building] was determined to be unsafe for students, faculty and staff after three separate structural engineering reports determined the building would pancake during a significant earthquake event,” according to Robert Miller, assistant superintendent and senior vice president of business and college services.

The college plans to demolish the existing building and construct a brand new one and the project is estimated to cost about $54.5 million.

According to Miller, funding for the U Building to be demolished and replaced depends on the governor and legislature agreeing to place an Educational Facilities Bond Act measure on the state ballot.

Once the funding is approved, the college can begin working with state architects to design a new building that is more energy efficient and seismically safe, but they may not be able to begin construction of a new building for another three or four years.

William Foster, theater arts instructor and member of the Faculty Association, said that one of the reports that was conducted found the U Building to be as structurally sound as both the C Building and the R Building, which are both still being used to hold classes.

“Unfortunately it’s only going to become more of a problem as time goes by,” Foster said. “It’s full of rodents, it is not getting custodial care and there’s no ventilation to clean out the air in there. It’s just going to sit there like a white elephant.”

According to Foster, the U Building is also full of asbestos, which has to be cleared out before they can even begin demolishing the building.

“The general feeling among the faculty is that even the new Science Village is a step up from the U Building because it has new labs,” Foster said. “We’re being allowed to grow as fast as we can and the college is doing everything they can to accomplish that and give our students and faculty more resources.”

When the U Building was first closed down, there was not a lot of planning done and a lot of money was spent building the new Science Village, where many of the classes that once took place in the U Building were moved to, according to Foster..

Foster said that faculty initially believed the U Building could be renovated and felt spending millions to build the Science Village was unwise. But after Prop 30 was passed and funding became available, it was less of a concern.

“After three reports and the state approving the replacement budget I can tell you it is unsafe for human habitation, or any habitation for that matter. They wouldn’t approve a $54,561,000 budget if they didn’t agree that the building was inhabitable by anyone,” Miller said.

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