The Arts Building – one of the oldest structures on campus – is set to undergo a $22 million renovation in order to bring it up to modern safety codes.

No remodeling or structural changes have been made to the Arts Building since was erected in 1959. According to Marty Levy, UCSB’s director of Capital Development and Planning, the university has planned to begin a complete renovation for the structure in 2009, which will include upgrades like replacing the building’s existing components with steel-reinforced walls, new plumbing and electrical systems – as well installing a few features designed to make its interior more comfortable for students. The renovation will take approximately two years to complete.

“In order to meet the needs of students and faculties who utilize the building, we must make sure it operates efficiently,” Levy said. “The building is not doing its job because it’s old and needs to be remodeled.”

The design component of the project will be funded by money from state Proposition 1D, which voters approved in last November’s California midterm election, Levy said. However, construction on the Arts building will not begin until the state legislature approves another $20 million bond for higher education, she said.

According to Levy, the governor must first draft the bond and then send it to the state legislature, which has the power to revise the document. A final decision about the bond is then subject to a statewide vote in November 2008. Levy said she expects it will be approved.

“Once a project receives approval, we’ve always gotten [the] remaining funding,” Levy said.

Several major renovations for the Arts building – which was constructed in an era of less stringent safety standards for public buildings – include bringing the structure up to a seismic retrofitting.

“The seismic corrections will fix some problems with structure and make it seismically sound,” former Arts Building Facilities Manager Jonathan Cecil said. “All of us will feel a lot safer because it will be structurally sound.”

In addition to upgrading basic structural soundness, the university will also resolve all deficiencies in the building’s accessibility for disabled persons as part of the overall project, Levy said.

“The bathrooms don’t meet the accessibility code [and] we will create a good path of travel for anyone who has a physical handicap,” Levy said.

Levy also said that once the Arts Building renovation is complete, the structure will be 10 percent more energy efficient – an improvement that will result from installing a new lighting system inside the edifice and from improving its outdated electrical structure.

Levy said there are many more structural problems in the Arts building that will be fixed during the renovation. Specifically, Levy said the Arts building has water intrusion problems and also suffers from inefficient energy usage and poor air circulation. In some of the structure’s recently painted classrooms, Levy said, students must constantly prop open interior and exterior doors because of insufficient air circulation – if they don’t, she said, paint fumes will fill the room, creating an entirely separate set of problems on top of this.

“The doors are left open and then there’s sound problems because students can’t hear the professor,” Levy said.