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WARREN HALL was completed in 1971 and remains the administrative headquarters for California State University, East Bay.
HAYWARD — The two tallest buildings in Hayward are two miles apart, but they grew out of the same 1960s aesthetic and could soon share the same eternity in the rubble of Concrete Heaven.

Both are Hayward icons, in part because the 13-story Warren Hall and the old 11-story City Center Building stand as two lone sentinels over an otherwise low-rise landscape.

But as the people who own them consider tearing them down, they are finding few locals who will be sorry to see them go.

"It's very cold. It's a very cold building," said City Councilwoman Doris Rodriquez of the old City Center Building, where she once worked.

The city completed building the concrete tower in 1969. Its top floor served as the seat of municipal government until 1991, when concerns about seismic safety caused city employees to move out. It has been vacant for almost as long.

Rodriquez said it was architecture critic Allan Temko, who died in January, who first called the building "the toaster" in the 1970s and set the tone for everybody else to hate it.

"He was sort of bemused by the whole thing. He just thought it was an abominable building," said Rodriquez, who took a class with the San Francisco Chronicle architecture writer. "He said it didn't fit into its surroundings."

On the other hand, Bruce Bagnoli, the campus facilities coordinator at California State University, East Bay, is pretty sure somebody of note once called Warren Hall a classic of its kind.


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He just can't remember who.

The hilltop high-rise, which continues to serve as the university's administrative headquarters, was built by CSU-commissioned architects and completed in 1971.

"I don't know that everybody has a visceral reaction to the architecture of the building," said Barbara Haber, the school's associate vice president for facilities planning and operations. "But they want better HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning). They want better elevator service."

Warren Hall, like the old City CenterBuilding, does not conform with current seismic code and would likely suffer at least some structural damage in a large earthquake on the nearby Hayward Fault, say campus building officials.

That is the primary reason that university officials are working on an aggressive schedule, with the help of a new campus president, to replace it, Haber said.

Administrators are hoping to pull in money from the upcoming November statewide construction bond measure, but they have not yet determined whether they will tear down Warren Hall completely or just take down the top floors and fix up the rest.

"What it really comes down to is the best and highest use of the space for the university," Haber said. "The building's mechanical systems are aged."

The old City Center Building is closer to seeing a true demise, as it could potentially be razed in January.

The city sold the building for $1.5 million in 1998 to a developer who wanted to fill it with condominiums, renamed it Centennial Tower and sold it to another developer. The condos were never designed because it is too expensive to convert the old building into something useful, developers have said.

Rodriquez said the problem with Hayward's version of a modernist government high-rise was its location — near the foothills, along San Lorenzo Creek and beside a freeway.

City Manager Jesus Armas said it made sense to city leaders at the time and was supposed to be a catalyst for more high-rise buildings popping up downtown. The plan to redevelop the area into a new city center, complete with helipad and other futuristic features, was so ambitious that planners and city officials gave it a secret name, Ticyah (based on "Hayward" and "city"), before they unveiled it to the public years later.

"People were proud of it as a symbol of Hayward entering a new era," said Armas. "It was really automobile-oriented, whereas now, what we're doing is public transit-centered."

The city's newest City Hall was built in the mid-1990s near the Hayward BART station. And in September, the future of the old City Center Building could finally be determined.

In May, the City Council voted to sell a city parking garage that it still owns next to the City Center Building for

$1.5 million. In return, the owner of the tower, Intercoastal Property Group of Los Angeles, would raze the City Center Building in January. After that, it wants to build high-rise condominiums above the parking garage.

Rodriquez said the dream of former Mayor Roberta Cooper, who retired this summer, was to see the City Center Building go down in a blaze of Hollywood-style fury.

"She wanted to do it on a movie set with King Kong on the side of the building and blow it up," Rodriquez said.