Even the longest journeys start with a single step.
That was the gist of the first of what officials promise will be a series of public meetings ahead of construction of a new Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory campus on Richmond's southern shoreline.
About 300 people, including leaders from the city and UC Berkeley, attended the first community workshop aimed at sharing information about the massive project and drawing community input.
"We want to develop new industries to help Richmond and the East Bay thrive," said Graham Fleming, UC Berkeley's vice chancellor for research. "The university, the lab and the city will build something special together."
Thursday night's gathering in the Richmond
The meeting opened with a nod to the lengthy selection process, which Richmond won after months of competition with other East Bay cities that coveted the prestige and hundreds of millions in investment the lab promised.
"There was broad, united and truly powerful support from the community," City Manager Bill Lindsay said. "Now there is sincere interest in making certain this new campus has far-reaching, positive impacts on the community."
Early plans call for a 2 million-square-foot complex at the 120-acre Richmond Field Station, on a site owned by
The proposed campus is among the biggest building projects in the East Bay in decades.
LBNL Deputy Director Horst Simon laid out the rough schedule: continued public meetings and planning until 2014, with construction occurring from 2014-16. Move-in and full operations could begin in 2017, Simon said.
In the meantime, discussions between industry leaders and the public must continue on a range of complex topics, including connecting transportation between existing infrastructure and the new campus and establishing educational and social links between the lab and Richmond nonprofits and other groups.
Architect Scott Shell presented a slideshow of photos both of the current site and other waterfront developments. Shell noted that the city's marshy south shore enjoys panoramic views of the bay and other desirable aesthetics. Shell said residents should expect a campus that has modern architecture that enhances the natural beauty with ample terraces, open spaces, bridges and bioswales.
"We don't want a closed campus, we want this to be a place where people want to go," Shell said. "We want the life and the energy in these buildings to spill out."
During the question period, residents asked about jobs and safety and whether the campus would integrate public art.
The answers demonstrated how early in the process the development remains.
"We have a lot of work to do in that area (jobs)," said Linda Morris Williams, UC Berkeley's associate chancellor. When asked whether the construction jobs would be "union jobs," Williams said, "We don't know that yet."
The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 6, and will be a panel of scientists discussing the research that will occur at the new campus.
Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726. Follow him at Twitter.com/roberthrogers