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Building Update!

With the Folsom Street location closed since November, we know there’s been a lot of curiosity about what’s been happening behind the scenes to renovated the building. Here’s a brief update about our timeline and progress so far.

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We began demolition of the space in early December after months of planning, packing up our precious machinery and moving everything to a temporary location in East Oakland.

With a target completion date at the end of April, we expect to move everything back to Folsom Street with a soft opening in May.  Stay tuned for updates, and don’t forget, our inaugural exhibition featuring the Hand Bookbinders of California’s annual Members Show will be opening mid-June!


One of the real fears when tearing apart an old building is that you will come across problematic discoveries with the foundation and/or skeletal building blocks of the structure. The building has been excavated extensively since December, and though we didn’t find any buried treasure, there haven’t been any major roadblocks either.  We did find evidence that we are sitting on fill from the earthquake, old brick and concrete mixed with dirt and clay, as well as some phantom pipes that have been removed.

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Currently we are facing a huge milestone: four moment-resisting frames will be installed this week.  These rectilinear assemblages of steel beams rigidly connect to columns providing resistance to lateral force and are the primary source of strength for the entire frame. Much of the work to date has focused on preparing for the installation of these massive steel frames: digging trenches, and pouring roughly 20 cement mixers worth of concrete!


With the moment frames in place, it’s time to move on to the rebuilding of the interior space to create a functional and aesthetically stunning space suited for collection storage, exhibition, and events.  Another major change in the space will be a new, inviting entrance off Clementina Street.  Taking the main access off Folsom Street will allow for a more intimate, quiet entrance to the space, which will ultimately double as a unique and exciting event space.

I will be meeting with the architects in the next few week, and will follow up with a post from their perspective.  Some highlights will include their vision statement for the space, as well as some of the unique details they are most excited about.  Stay tuned!

–Alexandra Williams, Volunteer Coordinator