Campus, News

A look at the Walter Pyramid: current repairs and highlights

Contractors continue with repairs in Long Beach State’s Walter Pyramid due to leaks in the roof as part of an ongoing construction project beginning in 2018. 

The university had contracted a private contracting company, Versatile Systems, after discussing with a consultant to assess the Pyramid’s needed repairs. Repairs were done in November 2019 as part of phase two of the project.

Johnny Solorzano (left) and Maher Maker (right) scale the Walter Pyramid to perform roof repair Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Austin Brumblay/Daily Forty-Niner

Joshua Cichuniec, director of Facilities Management, and Tony Malagrino, associate vice president of Beach Building Services, said that after two and a half years, the project is now in its fourth and final phase. 

“We have one more phase left,” Cichuniec said. “It is a lot of work, and you can see how much time it takes for someone to climb it and go from one side to the other.” 

Contractors climb the Walter Pyramid to conduct leak repairs on Nov. 13, 2020. Photo by Barbara Kingsley-Wilson

Although each phase is scheduled to take eight to 10 weeks, facilities officials said the project may be delayed due to new findings that also need to be fixed. 

“Hopefully we finish next year, but it depends,” Cichuniec said. “Everytime we climb up there and we look at different parts of the roof, we’ll find more things and as things come up, much like anything, we’ll find a way to make sure they get fixed.”

Malagrino said that the unusual design of the building has raised some challenges during maintenance as contractors have to climb the Pyramid to conduct repairs.

“Josh’s facilities management group has done a really good job with a really unusual building,” Malagrino said. “If you think about it, the building is a roof, the entire pyramid is a roof. You don’t realize it until you see one person at the top how massive the roof is. It’s an unusual project any way you look at it, and it’s an unusual building because of the steepness of it and the fact that the roof [is] also the walls.”

Cichuniec and Malagrino said they are hopeful the roof repairs will be finished before the rain season starts, as the 2019 repairs were conducted in response to heavy rains. They said workers will test the repairs by hosing down the roof to ensure the leak has been properly sealed. 

The Walter Pyramid, designed by architect Donald Gibbs, was inaugurated on Nov. 30, 1994 becoming the home to Beach athletics for more than 26 years. Gibbs drew inspiration from the Louvre museum in Paris, according to Barbara Kingsley-Wilson in “Long Beach State: A Brief History.”

The roof has lasted six years past its estimated life expectancy of 20 years. 

Formerly known as the Long Beach Pyramid, the landmark was renamed the Walter Pyramid after Mike and Arline Walter in March 2005 in honor of their $2.1 million donation to the university. The former dean of the College of Business Administration and a vice president at Levi Strauss, Inc., Mike Walter’s donation still stands as the highest single donation made to the athletics department. 

From hosting a voting center to numerous National Collegiate Athletic Association events, the Walter Pyramid is a CSULB landmark frequented by fans, alumni and even professional athletes and celebrities for concerts, basketball games and volleyball games. 

Kobe Bryant in Long Beach State’s Walter Pyramid on Dec. 14, 2019. Mark Lindahl/ Daily Forty-Niner

The Summer Pro League, which was replaced by the NBA Summer League, was held in the Walter Pyramid from 1995 to 2007 and hosted NBA teams including the Los Angeles Lakers.

The late Kobe Bryant made his professional debut at the Pyramid in 1996 with the Lakers during the SPL and even attended a game at the Pyramid on Dec. 14, 2019. 

Kobe Bryant sits next to his daughter, Gianna, in the Walter Pyramid, just a few seats to the left of President Jane Close Conoley, Dec. 19, 2019. Mark Lindahl/ Daily Forty-Niner

Gibbs told the Daily Forty-Niner in 2019 that he remembered former CSULB President Robert Maxson telling him “this is not a building, it’s a new beginning.”

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