The State Worker

Sacramento’s worst state buildings: Number 4

The one-of-a-kind State of California office structure in downtown Sacramento known as The Bateson Building – designed and built during Gov. Jerry Brown’s first two terms as governor – was touted as “energy efficient” when built in the early 1980s. The distinctive interior of the building, with its overhead skylights and sun louvers to its quartet of unique, tubular “stratification fans” hanging from the atrium ceiling, is shown in this view taken May 15, 2001.
The one-of-a-kind State of California office structure in downtown Sacramento known as The Bateson Building – designed and built during Gov. Jerry Brown’s first two terms as governor – was touted as “energy efficient” when built in the early 1980s. The distinctive interior of the building, with its overhead skylights and sun louvers to its quartet of unique, tubular “stratification fans” hanging from the atrium ceiling, is shown in this view taken May 15, 2001. Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

California state government’s recent survey of the buildings it owns ranked them for physical condition – the ratio of repair costs to replacement costs – and safety. None of the Sacramento buildings’ scores fell into the “very poor” range, but here is an installment of five that are listed as “poor,” meaning they will need large-scale renovation soon.

The state building at 1600 Ninth St., known as the Bateson Building, has been held up as an achievement in architecture.

Completed in 1981 during Gov. Jerry Brown’s second term, the Bateson building exemplified Brown’s vision – part of a plan that “set out to create positive examples of state office buildings as models of energy efficiency and humane working environments,” according to a recent state study.

“[T]he Gregory Bateson Building was a flagship for the state’s Energy Efficient Office Building Program ... The building included a number of passive heating and cooling features which had never before been employed at the institutional scale,” said Brian Ferguson, spokesman for the Department of General Services, in an e-mail.

The building has, among other things, a large atrium with fans that move air down from the warm ceiling area on cold days, and up to the outside on hot days.

But now, it has fallen into disrepair, at least to some degree. The state’s recent study, or Facility Condition Assessment, ranked it poor, the fourth worst state building in Sacramento. It recommends spending over $16 million on fixes in the next year, including money to repair leaks in windows and balconies.

Gregory Bateson was a philosopher whom Brown appointed to the University of California Board of Regents in 1978.

Andrew Holzman: 916-326-5545, @andrewlholzman

Gregory Bateson Building

Address: 1600 Ninth Street

Year constructed: 1981

Major tenant(s): Department of Developmental Services, Health and Human Services Agency, Department of State Hospitals

Capacity: 1,086 people

Estimated cost of repairs needed in next 12 months: $16,907,016

Safety issues: Most of building lacks fire sprinkler system; fire hose cabinets are out of service.

Accessibility issues: Doors need automatic openers.

Other urgent repairs needed: Windows leak and have deteriorated, balcony floors are leaking into offices below them.

Historic designation: None.

Source: Facility Condition Assessment by EMG, a consultant.

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