Daily Archives: January 23, 2012


The Berkeley Wire: 01.23.12

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Lab choice may prove beneficial to Berkeley in long term

Officials ready for the press conference announcing Richmond as the new site for the second campus of LBNL. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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By Lance Knobel and Frances Dinkelspiel

In late September and early October, Dr. Jeff Ritterman, a member of the Richmond City Council, went down to Berkeley West Biocenter on Potter Street, one of the divisions of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Both times, Dr. Ritterman arrived before 8 am and staked out a spot in front of the entrance. As scientists came to work, Dr. Ritterman handed them a 4×6 postcard with a picture of the Richmond shoreline, signed by a resident of that city. It was a pitch for placing LBNL’s second campus in Richmond.

“I knew the decision would be important to (lab) employees,” said Dr. Ritterman, who served as head of cardiology at Kaiser Richmond for 30 years and became a city councilman in 2009. “I knew people had some concerns about Richmond and I wanted to reassure them and make an extra effort.” … Continue reading »

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For a stunning bird’s eye view, launch a kite (or a balloon)

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Michael Layefsky’s passion for aerial photography was born one day in 1997 when he was taking one of his customary walks on the UC Berkeley campus and he came across “this guy flying a humongous kite on the big lawn in front of the library”.

The “guy” turned out to be Cal architecture professor Cris Benton, an early adopter of kite aerial photography, whose stunning work can be viewed on his website and Flickr pool.

“Cris is both very talented and an educator. The internet was in its infancy when he started but he set out to document and provide information on KAP, as its known,” says Layefsky, who quickly became an eager student.

An early attempt by Layefsky to capture images from a camera rigged onto a kite took place in Berkeley’s Cesar Chavez Park. “It was really windy and way too hard to navigate the kite,” he recalls. “My wife nearly had her arm pulled out trying to help me.” … Continue reading »

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Breaking: Berkeley Lab chooses Richmond for 2nd campus

Design for the Richmond Field Lab campus
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The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has selected Richmond as the site for its second campus. The Lab annnounced the news this morning on its website, saying the University of California-owned Richmond Field Station site “presents the best opportunity to solve the Lab’s pressing space problems while allowing for long term growth and maintaining the 80-year tradition of close cooperation with the UC Berkeley Campus.”

Three Berkeley-connected sites were on a shortlist of six for the campus. They were: Berkeley Aquatic Park West, located in West Berkeley; Emeryville/Berkeley, (which included properties currently occupied by the Lab in Emeryville and West Berkeley); and Golden Gate Fields, spanning the cities of Berkeley and Albany.

The Lab had originally said it would announce its decision in November 2011, but revised that to “early in 2012” in late November, saying it needed more time to fully evaluate its options. … Continue reading »

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Matter + Spirit: The Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler

Figure with Lost Torso. Photo: Emily Mandel
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By Emily S. Mendel

The de Young Museum’s compelling retrospective exhibition of the sculpture of Berkeley’s Stephen De Staebler opened nine months too late for the artist to see it. The De Young’s American Art curator, Timothy Anglin Burgard, worked actively with De Staebler to mount the exhibition, but unfortunately De Staebler died in May 2011 before the show was completed.

De Staebler, who was born in 1933, became a figurative sculptor at a time when such works were déclassé. One of his teachers at the famous Black Mountain College in North Carolina was Robert Motherwell, a leading voice of the Abstract Expressionist movement, who wanted De Staebler to shift from figurative work to the abstract school. De Staebler decided not to take Motherwell’s advice.

Instead, De Staebler benefitted from working with pioneering ceramist Peter Voulkos, who, in the late 1950s, had founded the ceramics department at the UC Berkeley. Voulkos, who was instrumental in turning ceramics into a vital art form, rather than the second-string craft it had been thought to be, introduced De Staebler to clay and kiln techniques. Since his childhood was spent in Missouri’s countryside, De Staebler had a strong tactile, and deeply symbolic connection with clay. … Continue reading »

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