Category Archives: Architecture

Major office/R&D campus proposed near Aquatic Park

The Jones family, which owns this 9-acre parcel fronting Aquatic Park, is asking Berkeley for a Master Use Permit to develop a life science "campus" of four to six buildings. Photo: Joe DeCredico
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The family that has owned a two-block-long swath of land along Aquatic Park since 1979 is asking the city of Berkeley for a Master Use Permit to construct “a premier life science research and development campus” along the waterfront.

Jason Jones, who owns the land with his father, Charles, wants to transform the 8.67-acre parcel, which is bordered by Bolivar Drive to the west, Addison Street to the north, Union Pacific Railroad Tracks (aka Third Street) to the east, and Bancroft to the south, into a cluster of four to six buildings that will hold light industrial manufacturing, research and development space, offices and stores, according to documents submitted to the city.

There will be a community meeting about the project, known as Aquatic Park Campus, on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Frances Albrier Community Center Auditorium, 200 Park St. The official addresses for the proposed MUP are 600 Addison St., 91 Bolivar Dr., and 2222 Third St.

The complex would cover 475,000 square feet of land and would include “an urban-style mini-plaza” at the corner of Addison Street and Bolivar Drive to provide “a gateway experience to the project,” according to documents. There would be a 300,000 square foot parking structure, a 2,500-square-foot manufacturing building, (a mitigation for a plant that was torn down about three years ago so Jones could do an environmental clean-up of the land). As a community benefit, the project would also widen Bolivar Street and add paths, sidewalks, landscaping, bike paths, and parking, according to Joe DeCredico, the land use planning consultant for the project. … Continue reading »

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Medieval-style North Berkeley ‘castle’ on market for $5M

The Hume Castle at 2900 Buena Vista Way. Photo: The Grubb Company
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Described as a “magical architectural masterpiece,” the 5-bedroom, 7.5-bathroom home that’s known as the Hume Castle at 2900 Buena Vista Way has been listed for sale, priced at $5 million.

The medieval-style marvel was designed by John Hudson Thomas and built in 1929 for Samuel and Portia Bell Hume. Thomas took his inspiration from the 13th-century Convent of the Augustines in Toulouse, and it certainly looks like it would fit right into the Southern French landscape.

Like the French convent, the Hume mansion, a Berkeley landmark, is arranged around a large internal courtyard surrounded by colonnaded cloisters featuring Gothic tracery arches. It sits on just under three-quarter acres of private, gated property tucked into a sweeping curve of Buena Vista Way, to the east of the Rose Garden. … Continue reading »

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Ohlone human remains found in trench in West Berkeley

Construction workers uncovered ancient Ohlone remains on March 29 while digging a trench in front of Spenger's Fish Restaurant at 1919 Fourth St. Photo: Wendy Kenin
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Update April 10: The developer of the Fourth Street site issued a statement to Berkeleyside through its publicist, in response to the original April 8 story:

“Jamestown is complying with local stakeholders, including the recommendations of the appointed Most Likely Descendent, in order to ensure the respectful and dignified treatment of the remains. In light of this discovery, Jamestown is performing further archaeological studies of the property and has enlisted a member of the Ohlone Tribe to monitor future excavation work. Construction will continue but all excavation work will stop until a monitor is in place. We are committed to the local community and protecting the traditions of the native peoples.”

Original story: Construction workers on March 29 uncovered what appear to be “pre-contact” Indian remains while digging a trench on Fourth Street near Hearst Avenue as part of the redevelopment of Spenger’s Fish Grotto and adjoining parcels.

Workers excavating adjacent to 1919 Fourth St. immediately stopped all work on the site and notified authorities, as required by the use permit, according to Matthai Chakko, a city of Berkeley spokesman. Jamestown, the corporate owner of the property, brought in an osteologist, or bone expert, who determined that the remains, which lay among shell midden — remnants of the ancient shellmound that sat for centuries in that area — were human. The Alameda County Coroner’s office later confirmed the finding.

“Because of the context with shell midden around it, and because we know that part of town contained shell mounds, we know it was a burial and it was human,” said Andy Galvan, a Chochenyo Ohlone Indian who is the curator of the Mission Dolores Museum in San Francisco and who often helps developers determine whether there are Indian artifacts on their properties. … Continue reading »

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Proposal to convert, expand UC Press building for offices

UC Press rendering. Image: DEVI DUTTA ARCHITECTURE, INC.
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Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board will consider a proposal Thursday that would see the UC Press building at 2120 Berkeley Way renovated into a modern 6-story office building with the addition of three new stories.

The proposal, submitted by the Rhoades Planning Group, with a design by Berkeley’s Devi Dutta Architecture, was originally submitted to the city in September and has been reviewed by the Design Review Committee.

The plan would retain the existing building, but “completely upgrade and modernize [its] interior while preserving the façade on the first three floors and adding three new levels above,” according to the project documents. The remodel of the former publishing house, which is located between Shattuck Avenue and Walnut Street, would create open floor plans, allowing for greater light, install new skylights, windows and building systems. … Continue reading »

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New BAMPFA ready to open Sunday in downtown Berkeley

City view of BAMPFA Photo Iwan Baan
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The countdown is nearly over. The new home of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, plum in the heart of downtown Berkeley, will throw open its doors to the public with a big open house on Sunday, Jan. 31, starting at 11 a.m.

Before that, there’s a gala party, which is being held Thursday night at a temporary tent set up on UC Berkeley lawn abutting Oxford Street. The gala has raised around $1 million for education programs at the new museum, its director, Lawrence Rinder, said at a press preview event held Thursday morning.

Read more about the new Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive.

Rinder also spoke of the challenge of designing a museum that has a dual identity and responsibility towards both art and film, and the commitment to creating a space that is both accessible and welcoming.

“This is not just a place to come look and see,” he said. “There are many areas for community engagement.” Rinder cited as examples the museum’s reading room, art lab and its stepped salvaged-wood seating, created by master woodworker Paul Discoe, where visitors can relax and chat, as well as watch performances. He added that a goal of the museum’s design was to have a flow that was conducive to “wandering and to being surprised.” … Continue reading »

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Housing forum: Climate right for development in Berkeley

Denise Pinkston, vice-chair of ZAB and an Oakland-based developer, talks to a group about the housing crisis in the state while Mark Rhoades of the Rhoades Planning Group listens. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The development climate in Berkeley has improved so much in the past six years that there are now approximately 2,500 apartment units in the pipeline — a dramatic change from the two decades between 1970 and 1990 when only 600 units were built, according to experts who spoke at a forum on multi-family development held in Berkeley on Jan. 21 .

The city is no longer looked upon as a place just to build student housing. With its foodie culture, rich history, music and art scenes, ­as well as the ability it affords developers to charge higher rents than in Oakland and other East Bay cities, Berkeley is now a popular place to build.

Read more about Berkeley development on Berkeleyside.

“Berkeley is no longer this campus college market,” said Stephen Lawton, volunteer program leader for the non-profit Urban Land Institute which hosted the event at the David Brower Center in downtown Berkeley.  “The hot San Francisco market is finally reaching across the bay in this cycle.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley now has its first and only columbarium

Gate looking into the garden – John Penberthy
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By Karen Queen

Berkeley now has its first and only columbarium. It is located at the far end of a walled meditation garden in back of Northbrae Community Church. Both are open to the public.

Why a columbarium? In 2004, Reverend Ron Sebring proposed an idea to honor Native American spirituality to the Northbrae congregation. The chapel’s stained-glass windows honor major religions of the world but not the spirituality and culture of indigenous people. Reverend Sebring had a deep, personal interest in Native American spirituality. He proposed a medicine wheel, also known as a sacred hoop, as an appropriate symbol and sketched a drawing of how one would look when placed on the ground behind the chapel. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: An open letter to the Landmark Preservation Commission about Telegraph Village

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To the Landmark Preservation Commissioners:

At your Jan. 7 meeting, you acted to dismiss landmark (or related) status for a quaint, “uncategorizable”, unsafe, barely patronized — and utterly unique and irreplaceable — relic of ‘the Ingrate Generation’. In so doing, you really have felt the pulse of our times.

In denying the application of ‘The Village’ (2556 Telegraph) for landmark (or related) status, of all Berkeley’s national and city landmarks, only three 60s/70s-era sites remain so honored. One is the … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Rep to unveil Peet’s Theatre to public Saturday

Photo: Cheshire Isaacs
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Thirty-six years after Berkeley Rep opened its first permanent home on Addison Street in downtown, the theater company will, on Saturday, unveil a comprehensive overhaul of its original stage. (See below for details of the Grand Opening event for the public.)

Those who show up to see the renamed Peet’s Theatre will not necessarily notice any major differences to what used to be known as the Thrust Stage, however. As Artistic Director Tony Taccone put it at a media and donors’ launch event Thursday: “It’s a bit like inviting people over to your home when you’ve put in a new foundation.” Much of the $7.5 million renovation work is invisible.

Arguably the most impressive new feature at the theatre will be heard rather than seen. A state-of-the-art “constellation acoustic system,” installed by Berkeley’s Meyer Sound, provides a much improved sonic environment for the audience, as well as better clarity for actors and more tools for sound designers to play with, according to the Rep’s Managing Director, Susie Medak. … Continue reading »

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Urban planning

Zoning board approves new units on Telegraph, Shattuck

The Nexus at 2539 Telegraph Ave. has been approved. Image: Lowney Architecture
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Berkeley’s zoning board approved two largely car-free buildings Thursday set to add 92 new residential units to the city’s housing stock.

Both of the projects — 70 units on Telegraph Avenue and 22 units on Shattuck Avenue — were proposed by Patrick Kennedy’s Berkeley-based Panoramic Interests.

The Telegraph project, dubbed The Nexus, is set to take the place of a 1-story office building where the nationally recognized Center for Independent Living got its start. The center has since moved to a new home at the Ed Roberts Campus and representatives from the organization told the Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday that a decision on the Telegraph property would help them move ahead with their own plans for the organization’s future.

The Nexus, which also has an entrance on Regent Street, is set to reach 6 stories on the Telegraph side, and include about 5,200 square feet of commercial space, some of which could one day be a café. Nine vehicle parking spots are planned for the retail area, and 144 bike parking spots are included. Building residents will not be allowed to seek residential parking permits under existing city rules. … Continue reading »

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How Quirky is Berkeley? Eugene Tssui’s Fish House, Part 1

The "Fish House" at 2747 Mathews St. in Berkeley,  June 20, 2013. Photo: John Storey
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The “Fish House” at 2747 Mathews St. in Berkeley, designed by Emeryville’s Eugene Tssui, is the least-expected and probably the most-photographed architectural design in Berkeley.

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New museum gets ready to open in the heart of Berkeley

BAMPFA DSR 15-09 5655
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The staff moved in to their offices in September, planning for its inaugural exhibition is well underway, and construction is almost complete on the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), which is set to open in January 2016.

Anyone who passes through downtown regularly will have, over the past months, had the chance to observe the gradual transformation of the Deco Moderne former UC Berkeley printing plant into a striking structure sporting a gleaming silver roof, a cantilevered section that juts out over what will be the museum’s entrance on Center Street, and a gaping rectangular space on the Addison Street side that will soon be a giant canvas for screening images and films.

Read more about the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

The inside of the new museum offers a mix of large white exhibition spaces, several enticing open-plan areas for public events or where visitors can simply hang out, and stairwells and a womb-like café painted a deep shade of chili red. The new building is 20% smaller than it predecessor, the Mario Ciampi-designed concrete structure on Bancroft Way, but it has more usable space. The new building totals 83,000 square feet, with 25,000 square feet of gallery space. The $112 million project was funded through a philanthropic capital campaign and private sources.

Aside from some difficulties with the installation of the distinctive stainless-steel roof (see below), there have been no significant delays on the museum’s timeline, according to the museum’s owners, UC Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s newest parklet opens outside Saul’s Deli

Photo: Saul's Restaurant & Delicatessen. Photo: Colleen Neff
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Berkeley’s second parklet is now open for visitors. The outdoor seating area in front of Saul’s Delicatessen in the Gourmet Ghetto neighborhood was unveiled today. It comes on the heels of the recent move of the Thursday Farmers Market to its new location in the off-road strip in front of Saul’s and neighboring businesses.

The parklet was funded in part by a successful $15,000 Indiegogo campaign earlier this year. Saul’s owner, Peter Levitt, hopes the space will be a boon to farmers market shoppers, in addition to regular day-time foot traffic.

Saul’s parklet, at 1475 Shattuck Ave., was designed by Berkeley architect David Trachtenberg, who is also responsible for the building that houses Saul’s, as well as many other buildings in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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