Category Archives: Architecture

Free events celebrate Berkeley’s revamped libraries

Kids browse the bookshelves at the December 2014 opening of the South Branch. Photo: Richard Friedman
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Call it a “library warming.”

As a way to celebrate the completion of its branch renovation campaign – and highlight the dozens of community programs it presents each month – the Berkeley Public Library is hosting a month-long party.

The Branch Out! celebration will bring concerts, art exhibits, pop-up libraries at food truck gatherings, a sleepover party for stuffed animals, mindfulness meditation, and that beloved event – author readings – and much more to a branch near you in April. … Continue reading »

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Fairmont group and Richard Blum buy Claremont Hotel

The Claremont Hotel & Resort has been purchased by the  Fairmont hotel group and Richard Blum, the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein Photo: Paula Steele
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Richard Blum, the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein and a member of  the UC Board of Regents, has joined forces with FRHI Hotels & Resorts to purchase the Claremont Hotel and Spa.

Blum and the Fairmont group closed the deal on March 21, a few weeks later that initially expected. Terms of the deal were not announced. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley home with personality, built for famed geologist

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Idiosyncratic and lovely. Both words describe the recently listed home at 1555 La Vereda Road in North Berkeley.

The three-bedroom house with separate cottage, which is priced at $1,095,000, was built for — and in part by — the renowned geologist Andrew Cowper Lawson in the 1930s.

Lawson was a traveler, art collector and enthusiastic builder. He had already had one distinctive home designed for him when he decided to have his next one built right behind it. Bernard Maybeck created the now landmarked “Pompeian villa” on La Loma Avenue for Lawson in 1907. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High breathes easier with opening of new building

Building M Gymnasium
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Earlier this month, with little fanfare, Berkeley High students began using a brand new building on the east side of campus, part of a $46 million new construction project, which gives the school new classrooms, a new gym, a weight room, as well as a multi-purpose space for gatherings and events.

Take a tour of the new Berkeley High facilities in the slideshow above. Hover over photos for captions. Photography by Pete Rosos.

With the opening of Building M, it’s also time to say goodbye to the decades-old portable classrooms that have most recently been used to teach world languages, and say hello to two new basketball courts, an independent storage facility, and new landscaped outdoor space. By late August, construction on what’s known as the South of Bancroft Project will be complete with a newly laid softball field, ready for use by late November. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley building set for Northside comes under fire

Rendering, dated October 2013, of the planned UC Berkeley Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation building, as it will look from Ridge Road in Berkeley. Image. Berkeley Engineering
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Neighbors to a proposed new UC Berkeley building say its modern design, and the need to remove several trees in the area in order to build it, are threats to the aesthetic and value of the historic Northside neighborhood. And the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA) agrees.

The Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, a new College of Engineering design facility, is set to replace the volleyball court at Le Roy Avenue and Ridge Road. The 20,000 gross sq ft building, funded by a $20 million gift from the Paul and Stacey Jacobs Foundation, will have three stories, with the first story being partially underground.

BAHA sent a letter to UC Berkeley in October objecting to the proposed building’s “alienating institutional look,” and suggested the planners consider a design that bears more “relation to the surrounding historic resources.” … Continue reading »

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Architecture

56 years after her death, Julia Morgan wins top award

Julia Morgan
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Last month, the American Institute of Architects awarded its highest honor, a Gold Medal, to architect Julia Morgan — 56 years after she had died. She is the first woman to ever be given the award.

Morgan, who practiced for 50 years and designed more than 700 buildings, studied civil engineering at UC Berkeley and caught the eye of the architect Bernard Maybeck, who taught there. After graduating from the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, Morgan returned to Berkeley where she went to work for John Galen Howard. That was the beginning of a long history of designing structures in Berkeley. Her name was in the news just last week when a building she designed on the Cal campus, Girton Hall, was relocated to the UC Botanical Garden.

Sandhya Sood, AIA, has a Masters in Architecture from UC Berkeley and is Principal of Accent Architecture + Design in Berkeley. Her research on the sustainability of Morgan’s work contributed to the success of Julia Morgan’s AIA Gold Medal 2014 nomination. Berkeleyside invited her to share her thoughts on Morgan’s work and influence: … Continue reading »

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Julia Morgan building to be moved across Berkeley

Girton Hall
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On Saturday and Sunday a beautiful, landmarked UC Berkeley-owned building will move across town, inching its way slowly from campus on a flat-bed rig up Centennial Drive to its new home at the UC Botanical Garden in Strawberry Canyon.

One part of Girton Hall, designed by famed architect and Cal alumna Julia Morgan and built in 1911, has already made the carefully executed journey. (See video footage and photos of that move.)

The complex relocation will conclude this weekend, with one large oversized section of the structure being transported on Saturday, and the other starting at around 6:00 a.m. on Sunday Jan. 12. The final piece, currently resting on Maxwell Field, will be moved around noon on Sunday.  … Continue reading »

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New 16-story hotel proposed for downtown Berkeley

Center Street Partners wants to construct a 16-story, 293 room hotel complex at Shattuck and Center. Photo: Center Street Partners
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A Carmel-based developer and UC Berkeley graduate will submit plans to Berkeley tomorrow to construct a 16-story, 180-foot-tall hotel with office space, meeting rooms and retail space at the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street.

The new complex, proposed by Jim Didion and Center Street Partners LLC, would replace the 1970s-era one-story Bank of America building and parking lot, and, if approved, transform one of the most visible corners in downtown Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Photo gallery: Berkeley’s brand new West Branch library

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On Saturday, Berkeley welcomed a new West Branch library at 1125 University Ave. (at San Pablo). Read all about it in our story published last week. And enjoy these superlative photographs by Richard Friedman, taken on opening day.

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New $7.5M Berkeley West Branch library to open Saturday

The adult seating area has comfortable furniture and tables made by Berkeley-based Swerve. There is an abundance of natural light, too. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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When the new West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library opens on Saturday Dec. 14, officials hope that it not only becomes a place for people to take out books, but a community center that allows people to collaborate and build their businesses.

The new 9,300 square foot, $7.5 million structure at 1125 University Ave. (at San Pablo) — first net-zero library in California – will have the largest community meeting room in the branch system. It can hold up to 100 people and it can be configured for video conferences and computer coding, as well as for meetings. There are numerous electrical outlets near the tables to accommodate laptops (which are also available for use) and a long counter that faces out onto the small garden holding a newly planted cork oak tree.

“It’s really not a traditional community reading room but an extension of the library,” said Library Director Donna Corbeil as she pointed to the glass wall that separates the meeting room from the rest of the building. … Continue reading »

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Architecture

Berkeley architects, Berkeley home on East Bay tour

The Roll-Up House in Berkeley, designed by Leger-Wanaselja Architecture. Photo: AIA
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A fresh twist on an artfully crafted contemporary home by a Berkeley architecture firm, and a sensitive updating of a historically significant home in our city by another Berkeley architect known for his dramatic modern designs: the result is two stunning homes that are open to the public, with four others, on Saturday, August 10, as part of the American Institute of Architects’ East Bay Home Tour.

It’s the third East Bay tour for the AIA and the theme this year is “Listening to the Past, Designing for the Present.” The six homes on show — one in Berkeley, three in Oakland and two in Lafayette – highlight historic remodels, airy modern houses, sustainable ideas and clever solutions.

Berkeley firm Leger-Wanaselja Architecture were asked to update a home they had built in the hills after the 1991 Oakland firestorm, when it was bought by a new owner who had previously lived in a downtown loft. The architects used exposed wood, steel and concrete give the house a raw, loft-like feel, and created a genuine indoor-outdoor setting through, among other things, a wall of roll-up garage doors. The home, referred to as the Roll-Up House, also has a host of eco-conscious aspects. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s brown shingles: The original party houses

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“Shingle Style: Living in San Francisco’s Brown Shingles,” (Rizzoli, 2013), is a new book by Bay Area architects Lucia Howard and David Weingarten, with photographs by David Duncan Livingston. The book showcases 20 Bay Area homes that epitomize the classic brown shingle style and, despite its title, 12 of those homes are in Berkeley.

On Thursday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m., Howard will host an illustrated lecture on Berkeley’s brown shingle homes at the Anna Head Alumnae Hall at 2537 Haste St., in collaboration with the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association.  

Berkeleyside caught up with Lucia Howard to ask her about the book and the beautiful homes it features.

A good number of the homes you feature in your book are in Berkeley. What was it about Berkeley that led to so many brown shingles being built here?
Berkeley was the epicenter of brown shingle architecture. The town’s vibrant mix of professors, writers, artists and free-thinkers drawn together around the University, many of whom pursued what Charles Keeler termed “The Artistic Life,” provided ideal clients for these houses. Built before the silver screen came along to define entertainment, brown shingles were a species of “party house,” designed for people to gather for performances, readings, worship, and events of many sorts. … Continue reading »

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Demolition starts on Safeway on College Avenue

Demolition began Monday on the Safeway store on College and Claremont.Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Oakland Mayor Jean Quan joined Safeway officials and neighborhood activists Monday to celebrate the official groundbreaking for a new store at the intersection of College and Claremont avenues.

After a few hellos and speeches, everyone got down to the main event: watching two huge bulldozers start to tear down the 49-year-old structure.

“Right now we have a store to knock down so let’s get some sledgehammers and get going,” Todd Paradis, Safeway’s real estate manager, said to the two dozen people assembled. … Continue reading »

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