Category Archives: Architecture

Aduro Biotech leases entire West Berkeley building

Wareham Development has rebuilt a historic building at 740 Heinz Avenue as part of its Aquatic Park Center, an 18-acre biotech campus in West Berkeley.
Photo: Wareham Development
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By Lisa Tsering

A biotech company that did the largest IPO in Berkeley history has leased an entire West Berkeley warehouse and will move its labs and offices there by 2016, helping to bolster the city’s reputation as a world-class life sciences hub.

Aduro Biotech Inc., led by UC Berkeley biochemist Stephen T. Isaacs, specializes in creating drugs designed to strengthen the immune system to fight off cancer. They work on some of the toughest-to-fight tumors, such as pancreatic cancer and mesothelioma.

The company went public in April, raising $119 million in Berkeley’s largest-ever initial public offering. It currently employs around 80 people in a smaller space on Bancroft Way. … Continue reading »

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John King: Berkeley buildings that make me happy

Photo: John King
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John King, the San Francisco Chronicle’s urban design critic, and a Berkeley dweller, writes a weekly column for the paper called Cityscapes in which, in words and photographs, he highlights an architectural slice of San Francisco life. The columns have been collected into a second book, “Cityscapes 2: Reading the Architecture of San Francisco,” published by Berkeley’s Heyday, and King will be talking about the book at Mrs Dalloway’s bookstore in Berkeley tonight, Friday, at 7:30 p.m.

In August, when writing the column, King turned his attention to his hometown. (Berkeleyside reprinted some of the pieces.) But he couldn’t include all his favorite spots. So here, without further ado, are his fascinating “outtakes.”

John King: Having lived in Berkeley for longer than I care to admit, it was a kick to finally do a month of Cityscape columns in the San Francisco Chronicle about my current home. They ran in August, a month chosen for having five Sundays; still the challenge was deciding which buildings to leave out. To give a sense of what a writer leaves on the newspaper equivalent of the cutting-room floor — and why — here are some of the buildings I considered but didn’t include. … Continue reading »

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John King: Keeping downtown Berkeley’s design distinctive is a tall order

BAM:PFA. Photo- Paul Chinn, The Chronicle
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By John King / San Francisco Chronicle

A walk through downtown Berkeley reveals a treasure of pre-World War II architecture, different styles and materials blending together in comfortable structures that were built for their time but seem to grow in stature with each passing decade.

The newer buildings? Not so much. And the ones on deck — one as tall as anything now there — could be even less satisfying.

The problem isn’t the scale of what’s proposed, or the architectural mishmash in the mix. It’s the way that a confusing process encourages checklists over creativity, while opponents would rather fight to stop nearly all change, rather than find ways to make that change enrich downtown’s sense of place.

Nearly 20 projects are now in the works in the area roughly bounded by Berkeley Way on the north, Dwight Way on the south, UC Berkeley on the east and the Civic Center on the west. … Continue reading »

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Two historic Berkeley homes get a makeover

The John Woolley house is the blue-gray one and the Ellen Blood House is the yellow one. The owners, architect, and builder worked hard to restore the turreted window on the Woolley House. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Two historic Berkeley homes with a combined age of 263 years have been given a complete makeover, and their doors were opened Tuesday to show off their shiny new parts.

The John Woolley House, first built on Telegraph Avenue in 1876, and the Ellen Blood House, constructed on Durant Avenue in 1891, were moved in 2014 to a new location on Regent Street and Dwight Way. John Gordon of Gordon Commercial Realty and his wife, Janis Mitchell, who bought the homes for $1 each, restored, renovated, and expanded the two houses using as much original material as possible. They also added a floor to the Woolley house. Gone are two decaying, although historic homes. In their place are five gleaming apartments with all the trappings of 21st century living: sleek appliances, gas fireplaces with marble mantles, and high-tech flooring. … Continue reading »

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Cityscape: A Berkeley theater that’s a show unto itself

BHS Community Theater. Photo John King
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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. … Continue reading »

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Cityscape: Indigenous architecture of the Berkeley kind

20 or so buildings in West Berkeley share an unusual trait: they were build with Crete-Glass, diamond-like patterns of block glass devised by the long-gone Berkeley Concrete Form Company. Photo: John King
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By John King

Like many older cities, Berkeley has architectural facets that set it apart — not only the shingled landmarks of Julia Morgan but the diamond patterns of block glass in 20 or so workaday West Berkeley structures. They were formed using Crete-Glass, a system sold by long-gone Berkeley Concrete Form Co. with the promise that it would both “save time and labor” and provide “a most cheerful atmosphere for workers.” Many of these buildings now hold uses far different than when they began. But together, they remain an element of the local scenery as distinct as the commuter trains that rumble past Fourth Street.

Continue reading…Continue reading »

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Three Berkeley homes on AIA East Bay architecture tour

Canyon repose. Photo: Matthew Millman Photography
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Three Berkeley homes are featured on the American Institute of Architects’ fifth East Bay home tour on Saturday Aug. 8, along with two in Oakland and one in Piedmont.

The title for the tour — a chance to peek inside some of the area’s most beautiful, architect-designed homes — is “Thread of History in Bay Area Modernism,” so it’s no surprise that four of the six homes on the tour are not new. In fact, one was originally built in 1937, and three of the others in, respectively, 1948, 1957 and 1962.

One of the three Berkeley homes, designed by Kuth Ranieri Architects, showcases the 2014 renovation of a home, owned by a pair of scientists, tucked into a hill at the base of Claremont Canyon (pictured top). The home had been remodeled at least one too many times, according to AIA East Bay. Working with Berkeley-based Jetton Construction, each space was carefully considered to maximize its connection to the landscape outside, while maintaining privacy from the street. The result is a comfortable family home at one with its surroundings. … Continue reading »

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ZAB approves 2539 Telegraph EIR, postpones use permit

The latest proposal, submitted to the city in April, of Patrick Kennedy's Telegraph Avenue project. Image: Lowney Architecture
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Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board earlier this month approved the Environmental Impact Report for a controversial 6-story apartment building proposed on Telegraph Avenue, but postponed a decision on the project’s use permit to ask for a revised design plan from the developers and allow time for other items on the agenda.

The board was set to vote at its June 11 meeting on the project’s use permit as well as the EIR, but voted to put off the permit discussion when the meeting began to run long, asking the developers instead to bring a new plan for the project that reflected the commissioners’ concerns. (The meeting ended at 12:15 a.m.)

The building, at 2539 Telegraph, which is being developed by Patrick Kennedy of Panoramic Interests, has been considered as a landmark on two separate occasions due to its connection to the Center for Independent Living, an advocacy group for the disabled which began there in 1972. The Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected landmark status for both the building and a faded mural on one of its walls.

The project has been widely criticized by neighborhood residents as too large and, in the year since the zoning board first reviewed the project, the criticism has not died down. … Continue reading »

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Protesters demand halt on new construction in Berkeley

Anti building protesters. Photo Tracey Taylor
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In the wake of a balcony collapse that killed six Irish students in Berkeley this week, a small group gathered on the steps of City Hall today to ask that the city put a moratorium on commercial construction in Berkeley until it is clear that buildings are being inspected correctly and that codes are being enforced.

Holding placards that read “Safety 1st! No new bldgs,” “Inspections now” and “Berkeley is in mourning,” the seven protesters say that all new construction should be halted until the city can “review its procedures,” according to spokeswoman Margot Smith.

Read complete balcony collapse coverage on Berkeleyside.

“Given the level of this tragedy, we have to go forward beyond a perfunctory investigation,” she said. “It’s the city’s responsibility to see that buildings are safe and that they remain safe. We need to see if codes are being enforced.”Continue reading »

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Most expensive home for sale in Berkeley is private oasis

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The newly listed five-bedroom home on Tanglewood Road in Berkeley’s Claremont neighborhood has the distinction of being the most expensive home currently for sale in Berkeley (we don’t count the $21 million home for sale also in Berkeley’s 94705 zip code, as it is technically in Oakland).

While it is priced at $4.25 million, it is also worth knowing that the home’s owners spent around $2.5 million totally rebuilding the house after they bought it 13 years ago — a two-year process which has resulted in a stunning spot, one that has served the family of six who have dwelt there very well.

In fact, it was the 17-year-old son of the family, one of four children, who, on first seeing the original property at 25 Tanglewood, designed by noted local architect Hans Ostwald, exclaimed, “I don’t deserve to live in a house like this!” … Continue reading »

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Apartment, townhouse complex slated for San Pablo Ave.

A rendering of Shorenstein Properties proposed complex. This would be the view from San Pablo Avenue and Jones Street. Pyatok Architects
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One of the region’s biggest developers has set its sights on Berkeley and is proposing to build a 5-story, 170-unit mixed-use complex at 1500 San Pablo Ave.

Shorenstein Properties is developing the 1.65-acre-site that covers most of a square block and is bounded by San Pablo Avenue to the east, Jones Street to the north, 10th Street to the west, and is near Hopkins. The land, long owned by Michael McNevin, once served as the home of McNevin Cadillac and is now the service department of Berkeley Honda.

The complex, which would be just a short walk to Acme Bread, Bartavelle Café, and the Kermit Lynch wine shop, will be a mix of two-and-a-half-bedroom townhouses, two-bedroom apartments, one-bedroom, junior one-bedroom, and studio apartments. The average unit size would be more than 800 square feet, according to documents submitted to the city, and should appeal to singles, professionals, couples, families, and retirees. The building will also have space for either offices or retail. The developer is including applications for permits for a restaurant with a bar, a café, and outdoor eating space. … Continue reading »

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View from UC Berkeley Campanile will not be landmarked

A group of protesers marched from the Campanile to the Landmarks Preservation Commission on April 2 to urge the landmarking of Campanile Way. Photo: Ted Friedman
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The view from the UC Berkeley Campanile looking west toward San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge is iconic, but it should not be landmarked, the Landmarks Preservation Commission decided Thursday, April 2.

The 5-3 vote, with one abstention, came after almost four hours of testimony from residents who are concerned that a proposed 18-story building at 2211 Harold Way will partially block the view from campus. Those in favor of landmarking urged the LPC to preserve the view for future generations by making sure developers could not impinge on the vista.

“Campanile Way is a terribly important part of the history of the campus and the Berkeley community,” said John English, who has lived in Berkeley for more than 55 years. “It is totally obvious it deserves landmarking. Let’s recognize its importance and celebrate its 100th anniversary by landmarking Campanile Way.” … Continue reading »

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LeConte residents express concern about Berkeley Honda’s move to site of Any Mountain store

A photo of a preliminary rendering of 2777 Shattuck Ave. prepared by Trachtenberg Architects
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More than 50 residents of the LeConte neighborhood turned up for a meeting Wednesday night to hear about Berkeley Honda’s plans to move into the historic Shattuck Avenue building now housing Any Mountain.

While numerous people at the raucous – and sometimes unruly – meeting said they support the family-owned Berkeley Honda, they said it should not move to its proposed location at 2777 Shattuck Ave. between Stuart and Ward streets.

Neighbors expressed concern about too many cars, congestion, the safety of children walking to Willard Middle School and Le Conte Elementary School, and how the presence of a service garage could bring down property values. … Continue reading »

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