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Etcheverry Hall is a building on the UC Berkeley campus that houses the departments of mechanical, industrial, and nuclear engineering of the UC Berkeley College of Engineering. Etcheverry Hall is named after Bernard A. Etcheverry, professor of irrigation and drainage from 1915–51, who later served as chair of the Department of Irrigation and Drainage from 1923–51. Built in 1964, it is located on the north side of Hearst Avenue, across the street from the main campus.
Berkeley Research Reactor
The basement of Etcheverry once housed a research nuclear reactor, the Berkeley Research Reactor. The reactor was later removed, and neighboring Soda Hall was completed in 1994 to house the computer science department.
The Berkeley Research Reactor was a TRIGA (Training, Research, Isotope production, General Atomics) Mark III pool-type reactor with a steady rated thermal power of 1 MW, capable of being pulsed to 2,000 MW. Professor Lawrence Ruby was the chairman of the Nuclear Engineering Reactor Committee and held key roles in the design and analysis of Etcheverry Hall to support reactor licensing, then served as the first reactor supervisor after it was completed. It first achieved criticality on August 10, 1966, and was used for irradiation of various items, as a teaching tool, and to generate radionuclides.
Fuel cladding failure resulted in "unusually high concentrations of radioisotopes [...] in the reactor-room air" on September 16, 1985, following the restart of the reactor after a long maintenance shutdown. The purpose of the reactor was questioned in light of a recent initiative that passed in the November 4, 1986 general election to have the city of Berkeley declared a nuclear-free zone, especially since the reactor was notably being used to test radiation effects on Trident II missile components. The chancellor of UC Berkeley announced on December 20, 1986 the reactor would be decommissioned since it was being used less frequently, and the space above the reactor would be used to erect a new computer science building. After the reactor was decommissioned in 1987, Professor Ruby retired from Berkeley.
The basement reactor room currently houses large experiments for the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Berkeley, including the Compact Integral Effects Test (CIET), which studies the thermal hydraulics, design, and operation of fluoride salt-cooled high temperature reactors.
Bernard A. Etcheverry
Bernard Alfred Etcheverry was born in San Diego, California on June 30, 1881 and graduated from UC Berkeley in 1902. He married Helen Hanson on August 6, 1903 and together they had two sons, Bernard Earle and Alfred Starr.
His first teaching appointment was to Berkeley's department of civil engineering, where he taught during the 1902–03 academic year. After that, he taught physics and civil engineering at the University of Nevada for two years before returning to Berkeley for the remainder of his career, from 1905 until his retirement in 1951. In addition to teaching, he served as an engineer for the construction of the Hearst Greek Theatre on the Berkeley campus. He moved into a new home in Kensington in 1953.
Professor Etcheverry died on October 26, 1954 in New Haven, Connecticut.
The V&A Café opened on the third floor of Etcheverry Hall in June 2017. This followed a series of renovations begun in 2016 planned to take place over a 10-year period to modernize the building.
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