15 October 2005

Stadium effects & neighborhood blight

The historic Olney House (Julia Morgan, 1911) at 2434 Warring Street is now a fraternity presenting to the world a “front garden” strewn with trash. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

Of all the many preservation issues looming over Berkeley, the proposed seismic retrofit of Memorial Stadium is predictably the most monumental. Reports are that the Stadium will be rebuilt and expanded, including a massive excavation under the eastern side of the Stadium to create new office space and facilities. This project is part of a larger southeast campus expansion project which also includes a colossal new Academic Commons building between Boalt Law School and the Haas Business School adjacent to the Stadium. Yet, to date, the full scope, size, footprint, and design of the stadium project is still unrevealed to the public.

The current situation is precarious for the cultural and historic resources around the stadium. It has become ordinary to experience bumper-to-bumper traffic (even in Strawberry Canyon), to be assaulted by exploding student density, to view the ever-creeping blight of forgotten trash and litter, to sight SUVs parked on lawns, to see front gardens paved-over for parking, or to view architecturally significant buildings virtually demolished by neglect. Such blight is not limited only to the scheduled seven Game Days per year. It is experienced every day and into most evenings.

In our Preservation Discourse section, we are reproducing several articles from the most recent issue of The Baha Newsletter. They focus on the implications of Memorial Stadium, its siting, and future development. look under the heading Whither Cal Memorial Stadium?


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