Kenneth Harvey Cardwell 1920–2010

Therese Pipe
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:18:00 AM

Kenneth Harvey Cardwell, Bay Area architect and professor emeritus of architecture at UC Berkeley, died Jan. 11 in Oakland at age 89. 

Born in Los Angeles in 1920, ancestors on his paternal side were owners of Spanish-Mexican land grants in Southern California. He served with distinction during World War II as second lieutenant in the 35th Fighter Squadron, and later chronicled his wartime efforts in a book, How Father Won the War.  

A long-time Berkeley resident, Cardwell was a UC Berkeley alumnus (1947), majoring in architecture. He first worked in private practice firms, then became principal architect in the firm Kolbeck, Cardwell and Christopherson. His teaching career at UC began in 1949, where he created courses in architectural history and historical preservation. An authority on renowned architect Bernard Maybeck, whom he befriended first as a student at UC, Cardwell wrote the acclaimed Bernard Maybeck: Artisan, Architect, Artist (1977, 1996).  

He was elected a fellow of the American Institute of Architects for his services to the organization and to the profession. Among his activities in various Berkeley civic organizations, he was elected president of the Berkeley Historical Society (1997-99), and later was its chief archivist until his retirement in 2009. During his time as archivist, he organized and computerized the society’s archives. Some other activities Cardwell accomplished for the Berkeley Historical Society included writing a column, first called “75 Years Ago” and later “A Look Back,” for the Berkeley Voice for several years; curating many exhibits, such as “Berkeley Literary Scene” and “One Hundred Years of Artists in Berkeley,” and leading a variety of walking tours. He leaves behind many friends and associates in that organization. A comprehensive oral history focusing on Cardwell’s life is in progress at the Berkeley Historical Society. 

Cardwell is survived by his wife Mary Elinor (Sullivan) Cardwell, five children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. 

A memorial service was conducted at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in North Berkeley on Saturday, Jan. 16, followed by a reception at the Cardwell family home in Berkeley.  


—Therese Pipe 

Berkeley Historical Society