SF Supervisors Landmark UC Buildings

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday August 17, 2007

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to landmark three of the buildings at the UC Berkeley Extension Laguna Street Campus at the San Francisco City Hall Tuesday. 

The landmarking of Richardson Hall, Woods Hall and Woods Hall Annex means that the proposed UC Berkeley and AF Evans mixed-use project would now have to go through the LPAB’s Certificate of Appropriateness process in order to alter the structures and to construct adjacent new facilities. 

Middle Hall Gymnasium—the oldest building on the campus—and Richardson Hall Annex were not landmarked although they were deemed “contributing” to a potential California Register Historic District by the Planning Department and the State Historic Preservation Officer.  

If the Planning Commission approves the demolition of the buildings, as is proposed, the campus may become ineligible for listing in the National Register. Other preservation incentives and tax credits may also be lost. 

The current gymnasium building houses a brand new professional-dance-troupe-quality floor and a state-of-the-art computer center. The Richardson Hall Annex has a community room with a large fireplace and Richardson Hall contains a tiered theater. 

Preservationists who oppose the demolition would have to file a lawsuit under the California Environmental Quality Act to save these structures. 

The move to landmark the buildings signaled a partial victory for the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board, San Francisco Heritage, the San Francisco Preservation Consortium, the Friends of 1800 and the Save the UC Berkeley Extension Laguna Street Campus group, who have been advocating to preserve the National Register-eligible former San Francisco State Teacher’s College at 55 Laguna St. 

First used as a city orphanage from 1854 until the San Francisco State Normal School was established in the 1920s to accommodate public school teachers, the campus also served as the original home of the San Francisco State University. 

After citing prohibitive maintenance costs, UC Berkeley closed its Laguna Street campus in 2004 and leased it to private developers AF Evans to turn it into a mixed-use development featuring residential rental units and retail space. 

The Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a hearing on the final Environmental impact report for the proposed project this fall.