This year’s annual Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA) Spring House Tour takes place Sunday, May 3. The tour extends broadly over the architectural spectrum, with homes from the Maybeck era to the “Mid-Century Modern” period, all concentrated in the North Berkeley hills.
Although they range from severely geometric, glass-walled houses to rustically organic shingled cottages, these residences are united by some commonalities, including careful placement in the natural landscape, responsiveness to the mild local climate and the spectacular bay views, and the desire of both architects and owners to express a particularly informal Berkeley style of living.
Three lectures before the tour will help frame the tour houses in the context of the eras in which they were created.
Robert Judson Clark gives the first lecture next Wednesday, April 8. Clark, a professor emeritus of Art and Archaeology at Princeton, fairly bubbles with enthusiasm about his areas of expertise. He’s the author of The Arts and Crafts Movement in America 1876–1916, among other scholarly works.
On April 8 his topic will be “Buena Vista: Maybeck and the Year 1907.” That was a “watershed year” for Maybeck’s residential design work in the Berkeley hills, although many of the homes he built on or near Buena Vista Way would later burn in the 1923 fire.
Clark is followed on Wednesday, April 22, by Henrik Bull, speaking about Bay Area architecture of the 1950s and 1960s. This was a period when “Mid-Century Modern” was in vogue, with its own unique expressions in the Bay Area. Many of the development gaps that remained in the Berkeley Hills were filled in with homes of Modern design in the post-war building boom.
Bull, founder and principal of Bull Stockwell Allen / BSA Architects, was one of those in practice here during that era.
The series concludes Wednesday, April 29, with a talk by Waverly Lowell, “Greenwood Common: Living Modern.” Greenwood Common, with some homes on the tour, is a remarkable enclave with a central common lawn, and perimeter homes designed by several important mid-century architects, from Joseph Esherick to Donald Olson and John Funk, on a piece of land owned by William Wurster.
Lowell, who heads the College of Environmental Design Archives on the UC Berkeley campus, is an expert on the history of the Common and has authored Living Modern: A Biography of Greenwood Common, which will be published by William Stout this spring. (Information on purchasing the book will be available at the lecture and the house tour).
Lowell is a thoughtful and meticulous student of design history and manages a treasure house of architectural resources.
BAHA Spring House Tour
For more information, see www.berkeleyheritage.com/calendar.html and scroll down to “From Maybeck to Modern.”
Lectures cost $15 each, $40 for a series ticket. All take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Hillside Club in Berkeley.
To order tickets, print and fill out the order form on the website and mail it with a check made out to BAHA and a stamped, self-addressed envelope to BAHA, Maybeck to Modern Lectures, P.O. Box 1137, Berkeley, CA 94701.
Tickets can also be purchased by PayPal through the website, and at the door, if seats remain available.
The CED Archives website is www.ced.berkeley.edu/cedarchives. Information on Lowell’s book on Greenwood Common can be found at www.stoutbooks.com/cgi-bin/stoutbooks.cgi/64579.
Steven Finacom is a BAHA board member and a regular contributor to the Daily Planet.