On its journey to a new building, the School of Public Health has vacated its ancestral headquarters (Warren Hall) and watched (from temporary space in University Hall and elsewhere on campus) as that timeworn structure was obliterated (in 2007) and its substitute, the Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences — which will not house the public health school — has risen from the deep pit left by Warren and grows closer and closer to completion. Meanwhile, the public health folks have been raising funds (goal: $180 million) for their new home in the same neighborhood, to be the centerpiece of a planned Community Health Campus, which will bring the now-scattered public health teaching and research operations together in one state-of-the-art 180,000-square-foot facility.
The biggest sign that the new HQ is on its way was another demolition, this time of the hulking State Department of Health Services building, which took up most of the block bounded by Berkeley Way, Shattuck, Hearst, and Oxford. This removal, too, was visible, and highly audible, from University Hall, and staffers posted periodic video progress reports on the public health achool’s Facebook page. The doomed 20th-century structure noisily was pecked for months to an ever-smaller skeletal remnant by one set of giant machines, and then, like dinosaurs, another set swept in, picking through the rubble as if some bits were tastier than others, sorting reclaimable materials into surprisingly neat piles for hauling away. Once it’s all cleared, still different mechanical beasts will come to assemble the new campus and, eventually, the School of Public Health will have its world-class act all back together again.