Nine Berkeley buildings win ‘design excellence’ awards

2-Comal Entry View A

Comal restaurant in downtown Berkeley, whose interior was designed by Berkeley’s Abueg Morris Architects, was awarded separately for its interior and for its exterior architecture. Full credits in the BDA 2013 Awards brochure. Photo: BDA

Nine buildings have been singled out as representing the best new design work in Berkeley for 2010-2012. Berkeley Design Advocates, a volunteer group of architects and urban planners, selected three UC Berkeley buildings, a restaurant, a senior home, two retail spaces — one newly built, one restored — a wine store, and the renovation of a branch library from a list of 15 submissions, and handed out the award certificates at a ceremony on Thursday, March 28. (See the 2013 Awards Brochure for full details.)

This year threw up a particularly impressive crop of winners, according to Anthony Bruzzone, President of BDA, who said that two years ago, with the recession having put the kibosh on many construction projects, the group was concerned it might have no buildings to consider at all in 2013. interior REVISED

Premier Cru on University Avenue, designed by David Trachtenberg and built by Kaufman Construction, has an interior palette of mahogany, bamboo and glass. Full credits in the BDA 2013 Awards brochure. Photo: BDA

“But then, last year, things got better,” he wrote in the awards brochure. “A few small projects here, a few deep-pocketed individuals there, and of course the university projects were in full swing… Not a moment too soon… This year’s Awards feature some of the most creative and inspired designs that BDA has ever acknowledged.”

The BDA awards make a point of honoring the whole team behind a new project or renovation. So owners, builder/contractors, engineers, landscape designers and interior designers are recognized, as well as the architects.

The community had concerns about the remodeling of this “precious asset” said Councilman Laurie Capitelli of the north branch library at the BDA Design Awards ceremony, but the result has been warmly welcomed. Full credits in the BDA 2013 Awards brochure. Photo: BDA

The BDA judges this year were: John Caner, executive director of the Downtown Berkeley Association, architect Philip Henry, Cal’s Emily Marthinsen (who recused herself for UC Berkeley projects), Dan Gregory, editor in chief at, and architect Anne Torney.

Other than the biennial awards, BDA also works on ad-hoc projects when it feels its members’ expertise can be helpful to the community. Most recently it organized a charrette to solicit ideas for the revitalization of Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue.

Speaking after the awards ceremony last week, local architect David Trachtenberg, whose firm was honored for two projects, said: “It’s great to work in Berkeley because the city has so many wonderful people and unusual projects. We get to expand on people’s personal passions and there’s a real entrepreneurial spirit here.”

Modest changes can achieve meaningful results. That was the conclusion of the BDA judges who recognized the team, including Anne Phillips Architecture, who remodeled this affordable housing building at 2050 Delaware St. Full credits in the BDA 2013 Awards brochure. Photo: BDA

2117-6 Overall with stair rails

BDA praised the “simple, measured composition of stone, brick, wood, glass, and steel” for this infill retail space at 2117 San Pablo Ave. designed by Kahn Design Associates. It will soon be occupied by Keetsa mattresses. Full credits in the BDA 2013 Awards brochure. Photo: BDA

The façade of Comal on Shattuck Avenue, designed by David Trachtenberg in a building owned by John Gordon, is sheethed in Corten steel, often “value-engineered out” on projects due to the cost, said Trachtenberg, but not this time. Full credits: BDA 2013 Awards brochure. Photo: BDA

Panoramic Interests worked with Kahn Design Associates to “wonderfully restore” this historic building at 2130 Center St. — “back to its former glory and more,” according to BDA. Full credits: BDA 2013 Awards brochure. Photo: BDA

bio sciences 3

In presenting the award for UC Berkeley’s Energy Biosciences Institute on Berkeley Way, Mayor Tom Bates reminded the university that part of the deal was that it provide 100 feet of space for retail on the Shattuck Avenue side of the project. Full credits: BDA 2013 Awards brochure. Photo: BDA

The Blum Hall project at UC Berkeley combined a renovation of John Galen Howard’s naval architecture building with a new, three-story addition set perpendicular to Hearst Avenue. Full credits: BDA 2013 Awards brochure. Photo: BDA

Presenting the award for UC Berkeley’s renovated Memorial Stadium, Mayor Tom Bates referred to the many months of related protests over the removal of trees on the property when he said: “Other than the fact that we sued them and tried to stop them, we’re very pleased with the way this worked out.” Full credits: BDA 2013 Awards brochure. Photo: BDA

Tackling Telegraph Avenue: Is this time different? [03.01.13]
New building proposed for Sequoia site on Telegraph Avenue [02.27.13]
1,000 apartments planned for downtown Berkeley [02.07.13]
First high-rise in 40 years proposed for downtown Berkeley [12.21.12]
Cal Memorial Stadium unveiled after 21-month renovation [08.27.12]
Three Berkeley homes are featured on East Bay architecture tour [07.30.12]
UC Berkeley’s new Energy Biosciences building is unveiled [07.17.12]

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  • Japhy Writer

    But is it Art Deco?

  • Deekraus

    I love the Trachtenberg jobs. Beautiful, clean, inspiring.

  • serkes

    I don’t think it’s met the glass, mirror, and zinc quota, so probably not.

  • Biker 94703

    I don’t find the front of Comal interesting or attractive, but the interior noise-deadening system is phenomenal.

    How about a followup article with the “Begs For The Wrecking Ball” list? My top three that come to mind are:
    * UC Extension building on University
    * Constitution Square building on Shattuck
    * 2001 Center St

  • Mbfarrel

    Fantasy Building on 9th

  • Mbfarrel

    Brutalist failure at Shattuck and 9th

  • serkes

    Shattuck + 9th?

  • Mbfarrel

    Big Oops! University… It was my phone’s fault. Really.

  • Jim Novosel

    It’s 100′ feet, not yards, along Shattuck between Hearst and Berkeley Way that the University will be required to lease to retail/commercial use. Jim Novosel

  • Jim: Thanks for spotting that error. I will fix it.

  • Charles_Siegel

    It would be clean if they just removed the rust.

    Whoever thought that rust would become the new sign that you are oh-so-hip.

    Seriously, I actually don’t think the facade of Comal is all that bad. Notice that it has traditional massing, despite the terminally hip use of materials.

  • toulouse

    Thank you for the article regarding Berkeley Architecture, it’s great to see all the fine work being done here in Berkeley. I would not have seen or read about the projects otherwise. I am not in the architecture design business, but enjoy seeing work that is well done.

  • Old Architecture is always good!

  • guest

    Anyone actually hip to current building material science would know that surface oxidation is the ultimate green finish solution.

  • susankl

    noise-deadening?? they boast about it, but it just ain’t so. Unless you are there at 5:30 or 9:30, the noise is at the same deafening level as most other restaurants in the world.

  • Erik

    Totally disagree. I’ve gone there with many friends who were amazed that we could clearly hear the music AND hear each other talk. Never experienced anything like it.

  • E Schmitt

    We should count ourselves lucky that we have the Berkeley Design Advocates, (a volunteer group of architects and urban planners). People willing to invest their time advocating on behalf of good design are a great resource. Thanks!

  • Charles_Siegel

    I am sure it was the latest material science when Eero Saarinen first used it for the John Deere World Headquarters in 1964.

    Now it is more like a throwback to mid-century modernism.

  • gr8 infos according to the pics….

  • Sylvan

    Has anyone tried to use the handrail at Amistad? My great Aunt lives there, and she is in her 90s as are many of the residents. I would be shocked to learn that the handrail meets ADA guidelines, or that the designers actually put their hands on it before specifying that shape.