UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy wants to grow. Its expansion plans – construction of a second building next to present historic site – does not sit well with neighbors who filled a conference room at the school for a Wednesday evening public hearing on the expansion.
The proposed building is would be built next to the present one, a city landmark located at Hearst and LeRoy avenues. The new building would be at 2600 Ridge Road, directly to the south of Cloyne Court, a housing co-op that happens to be another city landmark. The 11,000 square-foot building would be approximately 107 feet long, 56 feet wide and 50 feet high, similar in shape and architectural style to the old building.
The new building would house two large classrooms and over 10 staff and faculty offices. If UC Berkeley chancellor Robert Berdahl approves of the Environmental Impact Report next month, construction is anticipated to begin in late 2000 and continue for about 12 months. will be located at 2600 Ridge Road, directly to the south of Cloyne Court, a housing co-op that happens to be another city landmark. The 11,000 square-foot building would be approximately 107 feet long, 56 feet wide and 50 feet high, similar in shape and architectural style to the old building.
The new building would house two large classrooms and over 10 staff and faculty offices. If UC Berkeley chancellor Robert Berdahl approves of the Environmental Impact Report next month, construction is anticipated to begin in late 2000 and continue for about 12 months.
The problem, neighbors say, is that the new building will impact on the historic building, the former Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, designed by Ernest Coxhead in 1893. The building survived the North Berkeley Fire of 1923 and was designated a Berkeley City Landmark in 1982.
Some neighbors also expressed concern that the university is expanding too far to the north side of campus, bringing more pedestrian and automobile traffic to the area.
“There was the fire of 1923, and what that didn’t do, the university expansion project (will do),” neighbor Jim Sharp said during the hearing.
However, Cal’s Physical and Environmental Planning Office released the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the expansion project earlier this month, which stated that the proposed project “would cause no new significant impacts” to the site or its historical content.
“This school seeks to embark on a modest expansion program,” said Michael Nacht, dean of the Goldman School. “We are by far the smallest public policy school in the United States. It’s increasingly difficult to both compete with other institutions and also to accept the quality students we would like.”
Nacht said that the new building is important to the Goldman School because it will provide more space for a growing number of students.
“If we get to 75 (students) in an entering class, and have therefore 150 students (altogether), we are going to need other kinds of classrooms,” Nacht said.
Moreover Nacht said the school needs to build different sorts of classrooms. “We need some space that has curvature and also is raised, because what we are trying to promote in the classroom is interaction among students.”
Nacht said every major public policy school in the U.S. except UC Berkeley has classrooms like these.
The new building would be constructed on a 22-space parking lot. Several people who spoke mentioned that traffic and parking are already two serious problems in Berkeley.
“They say that we are going to lose some 20 parking spaces,” neighbor Roger Van Ouytsel said. “That’s not the point. The point is how many other cars are going to come.”
Tony Fossati, a representative for Cloyne Court said he hopes the university will offer some compensation if the new building is constructed. He said that the quality of life of the Cloyne Court tenants will decrease during construction and possibly for good once the new building is erected.
“We’ve dealt with the university’s construction before, and I think it’s only reasonable that the university understands some compensation is appropriate,” said Fossati, who listed beautification of the Cloyne property and hooking Cloyne’s computers up to UC’s internet network as appropriate compensation.
Before Berdahl reaches a decision on whether or not to allow the construction and if any compensation will be granted, he will review the EIR as well as Wednesday’s public testimonies.
The chancellor will also consider several alternatives, which include no project, a smaller project, a larger project and an alternative site. The smaller project would be construction of the building without a third floor. Alternative sites include the Upper Hearst Parking Lot and the historic Naval Architecture Building on the central campus.
According to Susan Cerny, author of Berkeley Landmarks, the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity building is a pioneer in the development of modern Bay Area architectural design. Bakewell & Brown made significant additions in 1909 and 1921. The university acquired the structure in 1966.
The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, the Sierra Club of Northern California and the City of Berkeley have all raised concerns about building on the site.
Comments on the proposed expansion can be submitted by August 18 to Jennifer Lawrence, principal planner, Physical and Environmental Planning Office, 300 A&E Building, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-1382.