HAYWARD -- Despite Warren Hall's stunning views from its landmark perch above the Cal State East Bay campus, few are bemoaning its scheduled demolition this weekend.
"I'm glad it's going down. I thought it was ugly both from the inside and outside," said Brad Crooker, of Danville, who attended classes in Warren Hall in the 1970s and again in the 1990s. "There was no ventilation, and you couldn't open the windows. It was cold in the winter and hot in the summer."
Declared the most seismically unsafe building in the California State University system, the former administration building is scheduled to be imploded at 9 a.m. Saturday. The university considered retrofitting the 13-story building, but found it was less expensive to tear it down and replace it with a new, more energy efficient administration building on the other side of campus.
There to watch, along with CSUEB President Leroy Morishita and other dignitaries, will be Kim Huggett, a former Cal State staff member who worked in the building for 12 years. He, too, expressed little sadness about the building's demise.
"It's a great big thumb sticking up on the ridgeline. When the sun hits the south side, it's going to get hot. As the sun moved around, it could heat up the interior," said Huggett, now president and CEO of the Hayward Chamber of Commerce.
But he worked on the top floor of the building, and the view was stunning, he said, taking in the bay from south of the San Mateo Bridge to the Bay Bridge and San Francisco.
"I had no windows in my office, but it was so worth it. I was just a few steps away from the president's conference room, and that was the most spectacular location in the Bay Area to have a meeting," Huggett said.
"In the late summer, you could go in there and watch the fog spill over the Peninsula," he said. "The view could quite frankly distract you from your work. Of course, it was also a wonderful building to eyeball the Hayward Fault."
The Hayward Fault will not be forgotten
Warren Hall had at least one fan over the years.
Architect Alan Hess, who had a column in the Mercury News, wrote in 2002, "Warren Hall stands like a Greek temple against the hills and the sky. Its muscular structure, expressed in concrete columns and beams, is as elemental and unfussy as the carved marble columns and entablature of a classical temple. ... This building is proud of standing out. It does not shrink from being noticed."
Some people suggested that Hess' assessment was flawed, Huggett said. "My memories of Warren Hall are very fond, but I never noticed any community fondness for the structure."
"Obviously, it was a landmark," said Hayward library director Sean Reinhart, who had several classes in Warren Hall in the 1990s. "I'm not a huge fan of Brutalist architecture, which was popular when it was built. That said, you couldn't miss it."
Reinhart said he returned to the campus a few months ago and paid his respects to Warren Hall. "I spent many an hour there," he said.
At least one resident found the building useful if not beautiful. "When I was riding on BART, I would see Warren Hall and know that my South Hayward stop was coming up," said Evelyn Cormier, a Hayward resident.
Warren Hall was named for E. Guy Warren, a local businessman who played a key role in getting a university built in Hayward. Warren served on the Hayward school board, AC Transit board and California State University board of trustees, and was active in local civic affairs.
Some of his descendants plan on attending Saturday's implosion, including one of his grandsons, Rob Warren, of Castro Valley.
E. Guy Warren died when his grandson was 4. "I didn't really know him, but I always heard stories about him in the community," Rob Warren said.
"By day, he ran a trucking company and spent an enormous amount of time in the community," he said. "But the second he got home, he would put on his cowboy hat and boots, get on a horse and ride up with hill with a cigar in his mouth."
The younger Warren is raising his family on the same ranch that his grandfather loved.
"The family is sad the building is coming down," he said, "but we realize the real accomplishment is that the campus is thriving, and that was the goal of the community leaders of my grandfather's generation."
The 13-story building will be demolished at 9 a.m. Saturday. Cal State East Bay campus will be closed beginning Friday night, but the university is throwing a viewing party in the parking lot at Kmart, at the corner of Harder Road and Mission Boulevard. Pastries, coffee, tea and water will be served beginning at 8:30 a.m.