By Rebecca Parr
Staff Writer, SJ Mercury News & Bay Area News Group
HAYWARD -- A 13-story Cal State East Bay landmark on the Hayward hills skyline visible for miles will come tumbling down Aug. 17.
Warren Hall, which has been declared the most seismically unsafe building in the California State University system, lies about 750 yards from the Hayward Fault. Because of that, the former administration building has been vacant the past two years.
Cal State announced the demolition date Friday morning after getting confirmation from the contractor, Controlled Demolition of Maryland.
The university campus will be shut down at 8:30 p.m. Aug. 16 as preparation begins for the implosion, scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. the next day.
Although the campus will be closed, the university is throwing a demolition viewing party in the nearby Kmart parking lot at Mission Boulevard and Harder Road. Pastries, coffee, tea and water will be served beginning at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 17, said Barry Zepel, university spokesman.
"This will be a 17-second event. There will be some chairs for those who need them, but we're figuring most people will be standing," he said. "Of course, people can watch the demolition from any public place where you have a good view of Warren Hall."
During the implosion, the building's bottom floor will collapse first, with upper levels pancaking on top of it, Zepel said.
The campus will be shut down all that weekend, reopening the next Monday, Aug. 19, at 6 a.m. Although the campus will be closed, nearby city streets will remain open.
The U.S. Geological Survey is capitalizing on the demolition to study a portion of the Hayward Fault. Scientists and volunteers plan to place almost 600 small seismometers on both public and private property surrounding the building to monitor the implosion, which will mimic a very small earthquake, said Leslie Gordon, a USGS communications specialist.
The USGS is asking helicopters to stay away from the implosion site.
"The noise of the helicopter blades will entirely ruin the scientific experiment for us," Gordon said. "They will drown out the experiment we are trying to record."
Warren Hall was named for E. Guy Warren, a local businessman who funded an engineering study in the 1950s that helped convince regents to locate the Cal State campus in the Hayward hills. The city beat out more than 14 other locations, and construction of the campus began in 1961.
Construction of Warren Hall was completed in 1970, and the building opened the following year, Zepel said. The structure, used by pilots as a visual landmark, has been associated with Hayward for decades, with photos appearing on the city's website.
California State University trustees authorized $50 million to demolish Warren Hall and replace it with a new five-story administration building on the east side of campus. Work is expected to begin in November on the 67,000-square-foot building, with a tentative opening planned for May 2015.