By John King
Strict planning dogma says this pair of theaters serving Berkeley High School should be deadly, since they turn their back to downtown Berkeley’s only park and the only doors along the sidewalk are fire exits and a loading dock. Instead, the complex radiates an assurance that blends clean architectural lines with a mass of almost geological force. Most arresting of all, the windowless walls hold enormous bas-relief sculptures that depict the spirit of performing arts as an almost orgiastic cacophony. It’s a high-drama welding of public architecture and art, one worth the trade-off at the street.
John King, the San Francisco Chronicle’s urban design critic and a Berkeley resident, is taking his regular Cityscape series to Berkeley this month. King’s new book, “Cityscapes 2: Reading the Architecture of San Francisco” published by Berkeley’s Heyday, is being published on Sept. 1, though copies are already available at Builders Booksource on Fourth Street.
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