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  • ‘The Aquatic’ wins easy approval from Berkeley officials

    A proposal for a new University Avenue mixed-use development, set to include 58 units, sailed through Berkeley zoning board review Thursday night, winning acclaim from commissioners for what they said was its beautiful design and sensitivity to the surrounding neighborhood.

  • Nine Berkeley buildings win ‘design excellence’ awards

    Nine buildings have been singled out as representing the best new design work in Berkeley for 2010-2012. Berkeley Design Advocates, a volunteer group of architects and urban planners, selected three UC Berkeley buildings, a restaurant, a senior home, two retail spaces — one newly built, one restored — a wine store, and the renovation of a branch library from a list of 15 submissions, and handed out the award certificates at a ceremony on Thursday, March 28. (See the 2013 Awards Brochure for full details.)

  • Comal: New restaurant takes a bet on downtown Berkeley

    On Friday, John Paluska will throw open the heavy steel doors to his ambitious new restaurant, Comal, which he hopes will become a magnet for local residents and a cultural incubator. “I see it as a big tent that I hope will become the heart of the community,” he said last week as he stood in the expansive, airy space at 2020 Shattuck Avenue, overseeing a plethora of pre-launch preparations.

  • Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

    VIVA MEXICO It’s countdown time to the opening of a “big” new restaurant in downtown Berkeley. Comal, a Oaxaca-inspired Mexican eatery which will seat around 160 customers both inside and at an outdoor patio area, is slated to open its doors on May 2 very soon. Last week, its new Cor-Ten steel façade, designed by Berkeley architect David Trachtenberg, was unveiled. Currently a shimmering silver, the steel will gradually turn a rusty burned orange color as it oxidizes. Former Delfina chef Matt Gandin will be running the kitchen, and its name, according to Eater SF, comes from the restaurant’s namesake comals, or Mexican griddles, which take pride of place in the restaurant’s exhibition kitchen. Berkeley firm Abueg Morris has gutted the 1927 building at 2020 Shattuck Avenue, and used reclaimed wood floors, wainscoting and poured concrete walls to give it a clean, contemporary feel.

  • Cannabis dispensaries display a stylish flair

    After the Berkeley Patients’ Group’s plans to move into the old Sharffen Berger chocolate factory on Heinz and Seventh Street fell through in 2010, the medical cannabis dispensary turned its attention back onto its San Pablo Avenue home. If the organization, which serves hundreds of people a day, wasn’t going to be moving into larger digs, what could it do to make the experience better for patients?