Tag Archives: College of Environmental Design

Students think outside the box to build better birdhouses

Doris Chang drills holes in her nesting box. Photo: Tracy Bugni
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By Kathleen Maclay

Sawdust, the smell of success.

As this year’s month long embARC Summer Design Academy at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design neared its end, the fabrication lab filled with the buzzing of band saws and drill presses, the tap-tapping of nail guns and the rhythmic scratch of sandpaper.

Some 40 high school students, 21 girls and 19 boys ages 15 to 19, from the United States and 11 other countries worked their way from the design studio into a room full of tools many may never had heard of before. And they swooped enthusiastically into the worlds of landscape architecture, architecture, retail planning and design on behalf of an unusual client.

“They’ve been designing for a client,” acknowledged fabrication shop lead Elizabeth Thorp, “and that client happens to be a bird.” Well, two birds, actually.  … Continue reading »

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William Wurster designed homes are still in demand

Biz Stone house
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A new book and exhibition on the architecture of William Wurster, the co-founder, in 1959, of the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley, serves as a reminder of the desirability of the homes he designed. And Wurster homes do still come up for sale in Berkeley and the Bay Area with some regularity, so becoming an owner of one is not outside the bounds of possibility.

In fact, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone lived in a William Wurster designed home in Berkeley — until he sold it in September 2009 for $550,000, the same price he paid for it in 2006.

As one would expect, Stone tweeted the news that he was putting his home on the market, writing to his then 980,000 followers (now 1.7 million): “We loved our Wurster cottage in Berkeley but it’s time to move – if you’re into architecture, check it out.” … Continue reading »

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Storied Pelican Building is considered for landmark status

Pelican Building
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The Pelican Building, situated on the UC Berkeley campus on Eshelman Road, was designed by architect Joseph Esherick, who taught at UC Berkeley for 40 years, designed Wurster Hall, co-founded Cal’s College of Environmental Design with William Wurster and Vernon DeMars, and was one of the founding designers of Sea Ranch on the Sonoma-Mendocino coast. But the design story of this pretty pavilion-style structure goes even deeper than that.

Venerable Bay Area architect Bernard Maybeck originally received the commission to design the building. In his nineties at the time, he passed the task along to Esherick who expressed his gratitude by blending some signature Maybeck touches with his own, more modernist ideas, into its design. That is why the building might bring to mind one of Maybeck’s most well-known creations, Berkeley’s First Church of Christ Scientist — and why the Pelican Building has been described  as “a unique overlap of First and Third Bay Traditions”.

The client for the building is another big name in California history — Earle C. Anthony (1880-1961), whose wide range of interests included cars — he was California’s distributor of Packards and built three impressive showrooms, one of which, designed by Maybeck, still survives, on Van Ness in San Francisco — radio and television, journalism, song- and play-writing and promotion of the arts.

While an engineering student at UC Berkeley in 1903, Anthony founded the college humor magazine The California Pelican. More than 50 years later he would finance the creation of a building dedicated to the magazine — hence its name, and the pelican sculpture at its entrance. Today the building is known as Anthony Hall, or the Graduate Assembly.

Robert Johnson and Berkeley architect Gary Parsons have prepared the report supporting the application to Berkeley’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. … Continue reading »

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