St. La Salle Hall, to undergo retrofitting

Preparations are already underway for the retrofitting of the iconic St. La Salle Hall next term. Retrofitting is the process of reinforcing the foundation of historical buildings to resist natural calamities and to fit into the changing city building standard. The whole retrofitting process will take one year to finish.

It is included in the University’s Centennial Renewal Plan, together with the construction of the Henry Sy Sr. Hall and renovations of the Velasco Building and the Br. Connon Hall, to name a few.

Engr. Roland Oliva of the Physical Facilities Office (PFO) expresses the need for retrofitting to preserve its historical significance to keep the 90-year-old building safe for students.

Before retrofitting can begin, the foundation was examined based on the desired strength that the city building code specifies.

Oliva describes that the process will begin with the removal of the pavement surrounding the foundation of the columns and beams to expose the original layer of bare cement. A layer of carbon fiber will then be attached to the bare cement upon which a new layer of pavement will be applied.

Dr. Anghel Lazaro III, former College of Engineering dean, planned and designed the retrofitting process. Oliva affirms that the project was already granted to a contractor, but he refuses to disclose the company’s name.

Issues were raised regarding the inconvenience of the retrofitting process. College of Business (COB) and School of Economics students will be mainly affected. One of them, Patrick Decal (III, ECM-LMG), expresses his concern over the noise level that the retrofitting would cause, and the availability of classrooms.

Another COB student Niko Ong (IV, AMG) worries about the safety of the students because the school will be open to outsiders once construction begins. Accidents may also happen in the work site.

Oliva defends that the noise level cannot be avoided. Workers are scheduled to do work that creates noise when most of the students are already on their way home. To pacify the security concerns, the contract workers will only be allowed to use a specific gate to enter and exit the construction premises. Separate restrooms will also be provided for their use.

The vicinity of the phase undergoing the retrofitting process will be inaccessible to the students to prevent accidents. Warning signs will also be posted in the area to inform and guide students to always be careful.

COB Academic Assistant Lilibeth Sutilo informs that despite the decrease in classroom availability due to the retrofitting, departments and classes located in the building will still operate normally. She furthers that the classroom reservations during the drafting of next term’s course offerings were well allocated.

The offices affected by the retrofitting will be transferred to the Marilen Gaerlan Conservatory, which will serve as the temporary faculty room.

Randall Cua, (III, BMG) has high expectations regarding the speed and quality of the outcome of retrofitting process because of the inconvenience it will cost the students.

St. La Salle Hall has undergone several changes in the past, but has remained the same in appearance and architecture. The building was built in the 1920s to accommodate the increasing number of enrollees. The original building is still intact but with the addition of the fourth floor in the 90s to accommodate the Brothers.

The main reason the administration pursued the retrofitting project was to preserve the historical building, the only one from the Philippines to come out in Mark Irving’s book 1 001 Buildings You Must See Before You Die: The World’s Architectural Masterpieces.

The building was damaged during the Allied Liberalization of Manila in World War II, where several Brothers and civilians were killed.

By Patrick Ong

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