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Commission Gets First Look at Plan for Landmarked UC Buildings

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday May 08, 2008 - 09:51:00 AM

UC Berkeley officials briefed the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) last week on several campus project sites still in the planning phase at landmarked buildings and sites. 

The university’s Assistant Vice Chancellor of Physical and Environmental Planning Capital Projects Emily Marthinsen joined UC Berkeley’s Associate Director of Physical and Environmental Planning Beth Piatnitza to give the commission a presentation on May 1.  

They began with the proposed Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) at 2120 Oxford St., the site of the landmarked UC Print Plant building. 

The project would demolish the plant building as well as the neighboring 250-car parking structure to develop a new home for the university’s art museum and film archive currently housed in seismically unsafe structures on Bancroft Way. 

The proposal, recently approved by the UC Regents, is at the pre-planning stage.  

Architect Toyo Ito’s conceptual plans for the new three-story building include a café and primary entrance on Center Street, and a “public meander” on the building’s ground floor, with an additional entrance at Addison and Oxford streets. 

According to a university report, the campus briefly considered reusing the old printing building, but abandoned the idea due to prohibitive costs. 

The report said the proposed design would contribute to a more vibrant downtown arts scene. 

“Organic forms in a grid pattern in the new design bridge the city grid and the campus park,” Marthinsen said. 

She added that her team would not present the proposed design to the board but that university officials would make design presentations to the Planning Commission and the Design Review Committee, in accordance with provisions of the university’s 2020 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) in May. 

The new museum, designed to meet LEED-Silver standards, is scheduled to be completed in 2013. 

Lawrence Robert Rinder, who replaced Jacquelynn Baas as BAM/PFA director last month, will lead the museum through the design and implementation phase, Marthinsen said. 

The University Hall Annex, a UC-owned site on Addison Street, has been discussed as a possible parking site to address the loss of parking downtown. 

Preliminary plans for the existing Ciampi art museum on Bancroft include using the building as academic and support space for campus units with existing space deficits. 

Designed by Mario Ciampi and completed in 1971, the Ciampi art museum is listed on the State Historic Resources Inventory and is considered a significant modern structure of the New Brutalism School. 

A temporary partial seismic retrofit in 2001 elevated it from a “very poor” seismic standard to “poor.” 

According to university officials, reassigning the building to other uses could allow the campus to install interior shear walls for strengthening in order to improve seismic safety. 

Marthinsen said the BAM/PFA project and the city’s Downtown Area Plan were complementary but separate efforts. 

The Downtown Area Plan calls for commission review and an EIR in 2008 before heading to adoption by the City Council in 2009. 

Piatnitza gave the commission an overview of the restoration and expansion plan for the nationally landmarked Naval Architecture Building on the north edge of the main campus. 

Expansion proposals call for building an approximately 13,000-square-foot addition between the Naval Architecture Building and North Gate Hall to house the dean’s office and other programs. 

The parking lot to the west of the historic Anna Head School on the south side of the campus has been designated as a site for undergraduate student housing, Piatnitza said. 

The proposal goes back to the 1977 City of Berkeley General Plan and the 1990 Long Range Development Plan, according to a report from the university.  

UC Berkeley’s Residential and Student Services Program proposes to construct a residence hall and apartment complex to continue their program in order to meet the 2020 LRDP undergraduate student housing goals. 

The design’s first phase includes a master plan of the entire site to address the relationship of the housing project to the Anna Head complex, which is listed as a National Register of Historic Place and on the State Historic Resources Inventory and is a City of Berkeley Landmark. 

“We don’t know how most of the projects will turn out,” Marthinsen said. “It’s still pretty early.” 

“I am hopeful, cautious, scared,” Landmarks Commissioner Carrie Olson said in reply. “There are issues I am really concerned about, especially the addition to the Naval Architecture Building.” 

Plans to seismically upgrade the Hearst Memorial Gymnasium include turning it into a hub for student activities and a fitness center.  

Designed by Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan, the Hearst Gymnasium for Women is significant because of its association with Phoebe Apperson Hearst and her son, William Randolph Hearst. 

The building, which opened in 1927 as the “largest and most modern gym for women in the country,” currently houses an outdoor swimming pool, classrooms, offices, space for physical activities and a part of the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology collection. 

The university is also considering an underground addition on the north side to house the collection. 

Plans to renovate the 205-bed male residence Bowles Hall include selective seismic strengthening and rehabilitation of the facade and historic steel windows. 

Landmarks Chair Steven Winkel told Marthinsen the commission would like to see the projects individually in the future. 


LPC agenda: aspx?id=13016. 

More information on the proposed UC Berkeley projects: www.cp.