Proposal to convert, expand UC Press building for offices

UC Press rendering. Image: DEVI DUTTA ARCHITECTURE, INC.
A rendering of what the renovated UC Press building at 2120 Berkeley Way would look like as offices with three new stories. Image: Devi Dutta Architecture

Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board will consider a proposal Thursday that would see the UC Press building at 2120 Berkeley Way renovated into a modern 6-story office building with the addition of three new stories.

The proposal, submitted by the Rhoades Planning Group, with a design by Berkeley’s Devi Dutta Architecture, was originally submitted to the city in September and has been reviewed by the Design Review Committee.

The plan would retain the existing building, but “completely upgrade and modernize [its] interior while preserving the façade on the first three floors and adding three new levels above,” according to the project documents. The remodel of the former publishing house, which is located between Shattuck Avenue and Walnut Street, would create open floor plans, allowing for greater light, install new skylights, windows and building systems.

The UC Press building at 2120 Berkeley Way. Image: Google
The UC Press building at 2120 Berkeley Way. Image: Google

The proposal calls for a new entry patio to the building with public seating and an area of open space. There would be space for “micro retail” at the front of the building on Berkeley Way, according to the plans. A roof deck for use by the building’s occupants would be equipped with photovoltaic panels to maximize energy efficiency in the building.


The current 22,864-square-foot office building would total 41,674 square feet if the proposal is implemented, and top out at 72 feet.

The UC Press building dates back to the 1920s when it was built for use by the United California Express & Storage Co. as a storage warehouse. It was used as the University of California’s publishing house for 30 years until the UC Office of the President moved its publishing operations to Oakland and put the property on the market. The building is not listed as a landmark or structure of merit.

A community meeting about the project at the 2120 Berkeley Way site was held in June, but only attended by two people.

The submission stresses the need for more office space in Berkeley which is recognized to be in short supply. “The demand for office space has been concurrent with rapidly rising residential real estate prices and many companies are being priced out of the San Francisco and Peninsula markets and are looking for high quality, contemporary offices in convenient locations near transit,” reads the proposal.

The Downtown Area Plan allows for an office building with a maximum height of 120 feet. Developers often favor creating housing over offices, however.

“Offices don’t ‘pencil out,'” Berkeley’s economic development manager Michael Caplan, told Berkeleyside last year. “It’s more lucrative for developers to build housing.”

Read the staff report and see additional project documents. Read more about the Zoning Adjustments Board in past Berkeleyside coverage. 

Learn more about office space available in Berkeley, as compiled by the city’s Office of Economic Development. 

Correction: The UC Press was managed by the University of California, not UC Berkeley.

Related:
WeWork brings needed office space to downtown Berkeley (02.12.15) 
NextSpace to open new co-working offices in Berkeley (04.11.14)

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