Local 21 Member Assists with Relocation of Historic San José State Building

 

An odd sight made its way around San José State University at the beginning of the year.  A historic house weighing 200 tons — about two blue whales — snaked through City streets to a new home across campus.

Local 21 Member Eilbret Mirzapour coordinated the City of San José’s arm of the project.  Many onlookers lined the streets January 12 to see the behemoth’s transfer.

“It took months to plan.  We had to look at the different routes, had to consider the weight and width of the house,” said Eilbret, a civil engineer and member of Local 21’s Association of Engineers and Architects.  “I didn’t realize how big the house was until it left campus.

Built at the turn of 20th century, the building is known as the Scheller House.  Because it has housed the university’s student body for 18 years, it’s also referred to AS House.  It sat on Paseo de San Carlos on the southwest side of campus and relocated to the northeast end. On AS House’s old spot, SJSU officials hope to break ground this spring on an eight-story interdisciplinary science building -- the first new academic building on campus on decades.

Movers scheduled 12 hours from start to finish, but the maneuver took a little over four hours.

“I think it went faster because we did such a good job preparing the area beforehand,” Eilbret said.

That speaks to the coordination Eilbret managed.   The only hiccup was a snagged tree as the house pivoted San Fernando, but tree trimmers were already on hand to climb into action.

To move the 6,500-square-foot dwelling, campus perimeter gates were removed, traffic signals on Fourth, San Fernando and San Carlos streets were removed, street lights were rotated, trees were trimmed, a bus island was removed, a bike lane bollard project was delayed, overhead PG&E power lines were de-energized, 11 streets surrounding the university were shut down and emergency vehicles monitored the area.

“Once the project left campus and was on City streets, I was the lead person coordinating facilities and permitting for the City,” Eilbret said.  She also worked with Local 21 Members Peter Bennett, Brian Macias and Brian Nelson.

A San Jose native and SJSU alum, Eilbret was proud to play a role in the move.

“It was a cool experience to be part of.  We got a lot of press for the move,” she said.  “One lady was interviewed on TV and she said she had lived her for 80 years and had never seen anything like it.”