SF State Science Building to go online in late spring

March 11, 2014 -- San Francisco State University today announced a schedule for partial reuse of its Science Building, which has been closed for the spring semester to address the presence of lead, mercury and asbestos. While classes will remain in alternate locations throughout the semester, some research labs and offices are scheduled to be reoccupied in late April and early May.

Several areas of the building will require significantly more work, and will not be reoccupied in the near future. Those include four chemistry labs, the chemistry stock room and the basement. Contingency plans currently in place for those areas will remain in effect for a minimum of one year.

"This is good news for faculty who are eager to return to their offices and resume their research," said SF State President Les Wong, "but it is a partial and short-term solution. The core portions of this building are more than 50 years old, and fall far short of supporting 21st century instruction and research."

The Science Building was first constructed in 1953, with additions in 1960 and 1989. It provides office, lab and classroom space for four colleges at the University, serving 9,000 student enrollments per semester. Closed on Jan. 10, 2014 to address the presence of potential environmental hazards, it has remained offline for assessment and remediation.

Environmental health consultants Patricia Beach, managing partner and senior scientist at Harris & Lee Environmental Sciences, and Michael Fischman, clinical professor of medicine, Division of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, conducted an environmental health assessment of the building. They reported to the campus community on Feb. 13 that no occupants were significantly exposed to hazardous materials and adverse health effects are unlikely to occur from having worked or attended courses in the facility before its closure.

Testing will be conducted again before putting rooms back into use, Wong said.

Wong stated that he is seeking a long-term solution to replace or more fully renovate the structure. Capital funding from donors, the California State University system, and the state is being explored.

SF State has one of the highest enrollments in the 23-campus California State University system, which overall is suffering from a $1.8 billion backlog in facilities repairs and upgrades.

"We cannot grow California's workforce of the future with outmoded and inadequate facilities," said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White. "Investment in facilities and technology that make learning and discovery possible is essential as we work together to improve the state of California."


SF State is the only master's-level public university serving the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. The University enrolls nearly 30,000 students each year and offers nationally acclaimed programs in a range of fields -- from creative writing, cinema and biology to history, broadcast and electronic communication arts, theatre arts and ethnic studies. The University’s more than 219,000 graduates have contributed to the economic, cultural and civic fabric of San Francisco and beyond.