Category Archives: Architecture

Historic house trucked across People’s Park to new home

Corner Dwight/Regent. Moving into placer. Photo: Ted Friedman
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After decades of painstaking planning, a historic south Berkeley house was moved this weekend, trucked across People’s Park to its new home.

Saturday morning at the crack of dawn, the 138-year-old John Woolley house at 2509 Haste St. was hoisted one block south to 2506 Dwight St., the site of a newly developing cluster of Berkeley historic homes.

The move is part of a deal that saves the house, a city-designated landmark, while opening up its site at the corner of Haste and Telegraph Avenue for development.

“I’m glad to see it moved and preserved. It’s a significant early house in the Southside neighborhood,” said Anthony Bruce, the Executive Director of the Berkeley Architectural Historical Association (BAHA), noting that he was speaking for himself and not the organization. … Continue reading »

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Exclusive: Local developer Hudson McDonald in contract to buy downtown Berkeley Post Office

Post Office by Darius Wekwerth
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After weeks of silence, Berkeley developer Hudson McDonald has acknowledged that it is the company that is negotiating with the USPS to buy the main Berkeley Post Office at 2000 Allston Way.

If successful, Hudson McDonald, which is best known for the construction of the Trader Joe’s building on University and MKL Jr. Way, said it plans to restore the 1914 building and develop the back for retail operations while offering the Post Office the opportunity of continuing to use the front lobby for postal services.

“There is a lot to be determined,” Chris Hudson, co-principal with Evan McDonald of the developer, said Tuesday. “But we want to preserve and restore the building, including retrofitting it, and we are having a conversation with the post office about them being tenant in the front part.” Currently about 80% of the building is empty.

Hudson said the Post Office had received several offers for the building but that Hudson McDonald was the only bidder in negotiation with USPS. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Democracy, transparency and Measure R

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Last March after Berkeley’s Downtown Area Plan received a prestigious national American Planning Association award, I wrote the following for the “Cal Planner” newsletter:

“In the end, support was overwhelming as eight of nine Council members adopted a new Downtown Area Plan … but what a long, strange trip it has been. The 2012 ‘DAP’ was forged from the crucible of Berkeley’s special style of community decision-making — fueled by passionate debate across almost 200 public meetings, … everyone … Continue reading »

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Berkeley city attorney: Main post office may have sold

Post Office by Darius Wekwerth
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The Berkeley city attorney has informed the City Council he believes someone has purchased the downtown U.S. post office at 2000 Allston Way, and that it is time for Berkeley to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service to stop the sale.

A letter to that effect was leaked to the Berkeley Daily Planet, which published it on Thursday.

Zach Cowan, Berkeley’s city attorney, told Berkeleyside he could not share the letter he sent to council since it was privileged attorney-client communication. But Cowan said the version on the Planet website was accurate.

“It is my conclusion that at a minimum a buyer has been chosen, and that it is likely that there is at least a letter of understanding in place, if not a contract and perhaps an open escrow,” Cowan wrote to council, according to the Daily Planet.Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Measure R will kill emerging downtown renaissance

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Berkeley has an international reputation as a free-thinking, expressive, welcoming and experimental city.  The current battle over the city’s downtown and November’s Measure R contradicts this image of ourselves, and in the worst possible way.

While promoted as a “soak-the-evil-developers” proposal, in reality Measure R is a thinly disguised attempt to freeze Berkeley in the past and wall off a potentially larger and more vibrant downtown to new residents. Rather than being progressive and welcoming, Measure R will keep people … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Vote no on Measure R — it’s a misleading initiative

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Most of us want a new downtown; why are we asked over and over to keep the old one? Why do we have to fight another misleading initiative — Measure R?

After years of debate on a plan to revitalize our downtown, we had the first initiative campaign to stop it, and a subsequent election, in which the plan was approved overwhelmingly by voters in every precinct in Berkeley. It provided for a new green downtown with new housing for … Continue reading »

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4 Berkeley buildings to get upgrades after library lawsuit

Ashkenaz will use a $27,000 grant it received from the Berkeley Preservation Trust to seismically upgrade its building and help fund a new roof. Photo: Joe Balestreri
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A bell tower constructed in 1878. A nursery school built in 1927. An import-export warehouse converted into a music venue. A prefabricated panel cottage put together in 1887.

These four Berkeley structures will soon be improved, thanks to $87,000 generated by the settlement of a lawsuit between Berkeley and Concerned Library Users, a group that protested how some Measure FF library bond funds were to be used. … Continue reading »

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2 historic Southside Berkeley homes on the move, literally

Blood House getting ready for its move. Photo: Ted Friedman
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A complex tripod of moving history is about to take place in South Berkeley.

In a unique and probably first-ever-in-Berkeley arrangement, two historical houses, one a city designated landmark, and the other a designated structure of merit, will be hoisted and trucked to a vacant lot a few blocks from their current locations, for a mini historical neighborhood cluster. … Continue reading »

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Architecture

4 stunning Berkeley homes on East Bay architecture tour

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 3.37.10 AM
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Four beautiful Berkeley homes will be on show at this year’s American Institute of Architects East Bay Homes Tour which takes place on Saturday, Aug. 9.

There are six homes on the tour — the others are in Albany, Oakland and Piedmont — and many of them belong to the architects or designers who dreamed them up, so visitors get to see how professionals design for themselves.

The four Berkeley homes offer variety in both style and scale. One, a stunning two-story Oakland house with a Berkeley postal address (pictured top) was built on the site of a home destroyed by the Oakland firestorm. It was designed by WA Design to be a home that feels open to the landscape and the bay view, while providing privacy from the nearby street and sidewalk.

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New paint on Berkeley Oaks Theatre: What does it mean?

The Oaks Theater has been painted recently. Photo: Mary Flaherty
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We’ve heard from some curious readers asking about the new paint job underway in North Berkeley on the façade of the Oaks Theatre, as well as the building it is part of, so Berkeleyside checked in with property owner John Gordon to find out what was happening.

Gordon said the building is being repainted to spruce it up, which could make it more attractive to potential tenants.

The pink and green striping on display earlier this week was simply primer — paint left over from other projects — which will be covered over as the job continues. … Continue reading »

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Gallery: Fans celebrate Berkeley art museum milestone

Crowds turned out Thursday evening to celebrate a milestone in the new Berkeley art museum project downtown. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Thursday evening, community members turned out in droves to sign the final steel beam for Berkeley’s new art museum before it was lifted high into the air by a crane and set in place.

The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is undergoing a complete rebuild in a new downtown Berkeley location, west of Oxford Street between Center and Addison, with its opening set for January 2016.

The “topping out” celebration was a chance for art fans to sign the final beam before watching it be set into place by construction workers shortly after 7 p.m. Addison Street between Oxford and Shattuck Avenue was closed to vehicle traffic during the event, as attendees enjoyed music from 14-piece brass band Mission Delirium and wrote messages on every surface of the beam using colorful markers.

Photographs from the event, by Berkeleyside reporter Emilie Raguso, appear below. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Historical Plaques highlight local history

John Hudson Thomas built this house at 959 Indian Rock Road for his daughter. Photo: Robert Kehlmann
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The Berkeley Historical Plaque Project has been calling attention to Berkeley’s history since 1997, when it started to place oval plaques on historic sites around the city. In 2012, the group launched a new website and created a new category — E-Plaques — to note not only important architectural structures, but the everyday life that makes Berkeley unique.

The E-Plaques mark things like the newt crossing in Tilden Park, the old garage where Creedence Clearwater Revival rehearsed in 1970 for their album Cosmo’s Factory, and Berkeley’s “foreign policy.” Want to know why Berkeley has all those traffic diverters? The project will tell you why.

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With Pauline Kael’s former Berkeley home set to be sold, concerns raised over fate of murals by famed SF artist

2419 Oregon Street. Photo: Cody Siler
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From outside, the house at 2419 Oregon St. in central Berkeley is an unassuming two-story brown shingle. But to those who know the artistic history of the Bay Area, the home is an important artifact.

The building was once home to renowned film critic Pauline Kael, and it also houses a number of murals by Kael’s friend, the legendary San Franciscan artist Jess Collins. The murals cover the walls of the stairwell, the upstairs hallway, the lower porch and part of the living room. Now the house is due to go on the market, and people are fighting to ensure that the artworks, and the history they represent, be preserved.

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