Preservation news around town
A view of Grizzly Peak from Canyon Road in Strawberry Canyon
(postcard published by Edward H. Mitchell c. 1905)
From the Summer 2008 edition of the BAHA Newsletter:
The scenic vista of Strawberry Canyon, a swath of green open space, is threatened by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratorys 20 year plan to further develop its hillside location. The proposed construction of nearly one million gross square feet of new buildings in both Strawberry Canyon and Blackberry canyons includes the recently announced 140,000-gsf Helios Energy Research Facility and a 50-car parking lot planned for undeveloped land within Strawberry Canyon. Instead of using the existing Blackberry Gate entrance at the top of Hearst Avenue, an additional entry road would be built from centennial Drive in Strawberry Canyon These planned encroachments threaten the historical balance between research and development activities in the Berkeley hills and less intense activities with smaller footprints.
Strawberry Canyon should be designated a Cultural Landscape for its historical connections to (among other events) Frederic Law Olmsteds writings about the canyon and his vision of residential life in Berkeley; the headwaters and the system of engineered water resources during the Universitys early years; the tradition of tree plantations in memory of University luminaries (e.g., the groves dedicated to Stephen Mather and Woodbridge Metcalf); the University Botanical Garden; the development of the East Bay Regional Park District; and the creation of the Universitys Ecological Study Area. Earlier generations expressed their aesthetic, social, recreation, biological, and academic values in the canyon, which live on today in this culturally significant landscape.
Memorial Stadium oak grove (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2007)
Speculation about Native American burial grounds and memorials to World War I soldiers aside, the oak grove west of Memorial Stadium is a contributing feature in the stadiums landmark designation (listed in the National Register of Historic Places, 2006). The application submitted by BAHA includes two basic resources: the stadium itself and its site (including the rock walls and the grove). The stadiums original oak grove landscaping visually connects the site to such pre-development landscape features still found in Strawberry Canyon as the oak-bay woodland on the north-facing slope and the riparian ecosystem of Strawberry Creek. The oaks also gracefully screen residential Piedmont Avenue, designed by Frederic Law Olmsted, from the massive stadium structure.
The proposed North Shattuck Safeway
Safeways proposal to replace their vintage supermarkets with larger lifestyle stores has been in the news. This will be the second makeover for the venerable local retailer, the first being the replacement of their small 1930s stores, beginning in the 1950s, with the present low, suburban-style supermarkets, designed by none other than the firm of Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons (see image). Berkeleys lone Safeway store, 1400 Shattuck Avenue, with its expanse of glass, curved front gable, and blue mosaic tile, was built in 1965 and will be affected by the new plan. Now that you know that the building is the work of a major Bay Area architect, you may want to give it a second, more critical look.
Armstrong College (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)
Berkeleys Judah L. Magnes Museum, owner of the downtown Armstrong College Building (Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr., 1926, Landmark #184), 2222 Harold Way, recently presented renovation plans to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. This will be the new home of the museum, now located at 2911 Russell Street. Plans call for the removal of Ratcliffs distinctive front door, a change that is under the LPCs purview, and which was approved at the 10 July meeting. Also indicated on the plans is the almost complete removal of the interior (except for the second floor auditorium). This major loss of historic fabric is not subject to LPC review, as interiors of privately owned structures are not protected by landmark designation.