Tag Archives: Berkeley architecture
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 »
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 »
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 »
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.
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 »
The Court of Public Discussion on current Berkeley development matters now evokes Time magazine’s ‘Architect of the Century’ for his take on things.
When the leaders of post-Great War Paris decided on massive ‘slum’ clearance—the second in 60 years—the rising, Swiss-born Le Corbusier presented a comprehensive solution, gratefully not taken. Influenced by the emerging International Style, stiffly formal French and English gardens, and the motorcar, he envisioned in 1922 a gridded flatness of towers isolated by gardens and expressways as … Continue reading »
Berkeley Design Advocates, a volunteer group of architects and urban planners, showcase the best contemporary design in Berkeley — as well as the best restoration of the city’s historical buildings — with their bi-annual awards.
For 2015, the group has selected the buildings and projects they consider contribute to Berkeley both aesthetically and in terms of civic engagement.
This year the awards fall into three categories: Restoration and Re-use, New Construction/Civic Institutions, and Food and Drink. A total of eleven buildings were recognized, and DBA also gave out a special award for Successful Urban Intervention.
The award winners are listed below, with caption excerpts from the Berkeley Design Advocates award write-ups. Read full details, including the names of the developers and architects, in the Berkeley Design Advocates awards brochure. … Continue reading »
I venture to say that most people who have driven by the 99¢ Only Stores on San Pablo Avenue just north of University Avenue have never stopped and gone inside. I further venture to say that most people who have shopped at the 99¢ Only Stores have never stopped and looked up. Those who stop and those who look up are in for a quirky treat.
The 99¢ Only Stores at 1941 San Pablo is the former home of the Rivoli Theatre, built in 1924-1925. It seated 1,402 and changed shows four times a week. As a result of changing movie-going habits, the Rivoli first limited screenings to weekends, then closed as a movie theater in the 1950s. Since then, it has been a Long’s Drugs, a Smart and Final grocery store, and now – a 99¢ Only Store. … Continue reading »
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.
The homes designed by Donald Olsen stand out as remarkably durable achievements within the Bay Area’s post-war architectural heritage. The architect, who was a professor at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design, was inspired by Bauhaus, and his designs are rooted in the 20th-century Modern Movement. His own striking, landmarked home, on San Diego Road in North Berkeley, is a draw for architects and architectural students.
A recently published book by local architect and writer Pierluigi Serraino, Donald Olsen: Architect of Habitable Abstractions (William Stout, 2013) — richly illustrated with drawings, plans, and photographs — celebrates Olsen’s work and documents his little-known examples of high modernism in Northern California.
Berkeleyside spoke to Serraino about the book and the process of writing it:
You are a practicing architect who has written several books about architecture, including NorCalMod: Icons of Northern California Modernism, and Julius Shulman: Modernism Rediscovered. What is your impetus for choosing your subject?
My first exposure to architecture was through my father, who was a structural engineer. He was passionate about books and made me aware of the importance of informed action. Attending the School of Architecture at the University of Rome only reinforced this approach. To operate being cognizant of your environment culturally as much as technically is a first principle in Italian education. You are not called a historian if you are learning about what has been: it is part of the job. My passion for mid-century modern and architectural photography is the result of my personal exposure to Julius Shulman, with whom I spent several years doing research in his archive and discussing the ramifications of photography. It was an extraordinary experience that made me realize how architecture, its image, and its memory are completely intertwined. … Continue reading »
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 »
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 »
“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 »