29 August 2006

Save the Oaks at the Stadium

BAHA ramblers at the oak grove (photo: Daniella Thompson 2006)

Save the Oaks at the Stadium is a grass-roots volunteer citizens’ group dedicated to stopping the destruction of the oak grove adjacent to California Memorial Stadium.

The university plans to cut down the oaks and build a Student Athlete High-Performance Center (see BAHA’s letter to UC).

Visit Save the Oaks to send an e-mail to Chancellor Birgeneau, Mayor Bates, U.C. President Dynes, U.C. Regents & the Berkeley City Council. Then learn what else you can do to help.

13 August 2006

Harris Allen: the spirit of individuality

Griffith house, 2830 Russell St., 1919 (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2006)

Architect Harris C. Allen (1876–1960) had no cookie cutters in his professional toolbox. No two of his buildings looked alike—each was designed for its particular site and stamped with the owner’s individuality.

Yet Allen was hardly the Zelig of architecture. All his buildings are marked with strong personalities and demonstrate, through many fine details, their designer’s enlightened sensibility to “patterns” (in Christopher Alexander’s term) that make a building livable.

Between 1901 and 1926, Allen designed 22 houses in Berkeley. Most of them are still standing. The article Harris Allen: the spirit of individuality will take you on a pictorial tour of these houses.

11 August 2006

Roadside architecture worth preserving

This noteworthy building at 2747 San Pablo Ave. is slated for demolition. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2006)

Currently used by the Berkeley Patients Group as a medical cannabis dispensary, 2747 San Pablo Ave. is scheduled for demolition. The site’s owner, David Mayeri, intends to raze the building and construct mixed-use entry-level condos, a development he describes as “a green mixed-use housing development on a major transit corridor in Berkeley, seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification through the U.S. Green Building Council.”

The building is a prime example of mid-century roadside architecture. Buildings of this type are being recognized as cultural resources worthy of preservation. Listings in the National Register of Historic Places or designations at the state or local level abound across the country. Numerous books on the building styles of roadside America have been published. Municipalities and local organizations are stepping up to protect their significant exemplars.

The building at 2747 San Pablo Avenue has all the earmarks of a classic in this genre. It possesses the prized circular design and carries it further with slanting windows and an up-tilted roof. Why can’t David Mayeri incorporate the very attractive circular fa├žade into his green condo development?

Read the full story in Roadside architecture worth preserving.

You might also be interested in following a similar story in Santa Cruz.

03 August 2006

Harvey Helfand photography exhibit at the Faculty Club

Hearst Memorial Mining Building (photo: Harvey Helfand)

The U.C. Berkeley Faculty Club’s August art show is devoted to the work of photographer Harvey Helfand, a graduate of the College of Environmental Design and longtime campus planner.

Harvey is a columnist for the Alumni Association’s California Magazine and author of The Campus Guide: University of California Berkeley (Princeton Architectural Press, 2002). His photographs of the campus appeared in many publications. In addition to campus material, Harvey will show photographs from other parts of his life, including the time he spent working in the Palau Islands of Micronesia.