Energy Efficient Japan

A hallmark of the CED program is its relentless commitment to addressing the most critical challenges facing society today with an attention to sustainability, design excellence, community involvement, and technological expertise. CED faculty continually lead the way in promoting these values not only in the classroom but beyond it as well.

No event demanded the application of these principles more than the disaster that occurred March 11, 2011. The most powerful earthquake ever to have hit Japan caused huge devastation triggering a massive tsunami responsible for meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Along with tremendous rebuilding needs, the country whose lifestyle depended on reliable electricity, was now forced to rethink its energy use.

This became the catalyst for Architecture.Energy.2011, an intensive 4-day workshop, June 23–26, 2011 in Tokyo, developed by CED Professors of Architecture Dana Buntrock and Susan Ubbelohde. Intended as a quick response to the catastrophe with longer-term follow-up, the workshop was designed to introduce advanced concepts of building energy use and occupant comfort through the lens of architectural space and material as a filter for the environment. A subsequent workshop was held in August of 2012 at Berkeley, offering participants knowledge and skills that continue to be applied today.

handbook used in workshop
A page from the handbook used in the 2011 workshop in Japan, produced by Susan Ubbelohde’s practice, Loisos+Ubbelohde. Enlarge [+]

A different way of thinking

Having been involved in architectural research in Japan since the late 1980s, Dana Buntrock has an intimate familiarity with the country’s approach to building design and a strong affiliation with the architectural community there. She reached out to her colleague Susan Ubbelohde, realizing that while Susan and her firm, Loisos+Ubbelohde, had no prior experience in Japan, their leading-edge expertise in technical analysis and energy efficient building practices was essential.

Historically, Japan has placed little emphasis on basic energy conservation approaches, such as insulation, in architecture. Because living and working spaces are typically very small, and households are in the habit of heating only one room at a time, per capita energy use has been relatively low. Energy saving practices that we take for granted in the US — like thermal insulation, day-lighting and energy performance measurement and analysis — are rare in Japan and although a building code related to energy consumption exists, compliance has been voluntary. While Japan places great importance on environmental policy as it concerns greenhouse emissions, there was little relation to efforts to reduce overall energy consumption, especially connected to buildings.

Buntrock and Ubbelohde were not out to champion California energy policy. “We were not interested in suggesting we are better at energy conservation than Japan, but simply that we offered a way of thinking that filled out an area where Japan had not yet developed strengths,” explains Buntrock. Ubbelohde echoes the sentiment, “Japan has a challenge to maintain their current quality of life without nuclear power. Japanese architects now have the opportunity to look at building science as a means of addressing that.”

Light. Heat. Air. Energy.

The June 2011 workshop, funded through a variety of resources that Buntrock and Ubbelohde put together, including money from the UC Berkeley Center for Japanese Studies and personal resources, was designed to provide tools and ways of approaching energy efficiency for architects already leading the profession in Japan. Seminars on the physics of building performance based on daily themes — Light, Heat, Air, and Supplementary Energy — were followed by an Environmental Measurement segment where participants used devices to discover how metrics relate to experience, and a Design Lab where teams were tasked with re-designing a contemporary building. Energy modelers from Loisos+Ubbelohde and UC Berkeley simulated energy performance and gave feedback to the participants as they worked.

Measuring wall surface temperatures
Participants at the 2011 workshop in Tokyo use infrared sensors to measure wall surface temperatures. Enlarge [+]

The workshops were truly a cross-cultural collaboration, with organizers and leaders from both Japan and the US. Along with Professors Buntrock and Ubbelohde, and L+U principal George Loisos, groups were led by L+U staff Brendon Levitt, Ibone Santiago, Eduardo Pintos — all CED alumni — and Santosh Phillip. CED graduate student participants included David Fannon (M.Arch ’12), Kyle Konis (PhD Arch ’11), and Jeremy Fisher (M.S. Arch ’11). Collaborators in Japan who helped with organization and logistics included Shuzo Murakami, Building Research Institute; Masao Koizumi, Tokyo Metropolitan University; Kengo Kuma, Tokyo University; Nobufusa Yoshizawa, Insitute for Building Environment and Energy Conservation; and Balazs Bognar, Kuma and Associates.

Kyle Konis and Tokyo-based architects
Kyle Konis (UCB PhD ’11), now a professor at the University of southern California, reviews performance data with a team of Tokyo-based architects. Enlarge [+]

Response was overwhelming. All together, 57 individuals participated. Many firms and organizations, under pressure to respond not only to the paradigm shifts in thinking about energy, but also to the more immediate need to rebuild in devastated areas, sent different participants on different days.

Workshop presentation
Mr. Norihisa Kawashima, an architect at Nikken Sekkei, and other Japan workshop participants present the results of four intensive days of redesign to Professor Susan Ubbelohde and George Loisos. Enlarge [+]

The follow-up workshop the next year at Berkeley, funded by a grant from the Japan Foundation’s Center for Global Partnership, focused on energy efficiency from a policy and application perspective, and concentrated on a more substantial sharing of available tools. Many of the same participants or participant firms took part in the second workshop along with first-time attendees.

Expressing her amazement at the level of engagement of the workshop participants, Susan Ubbelohde remarked, “These were some of the best designers I had ever worked with. Since the workshop, we’ve had a number of architects and engineers from Japan visiting the office and now there is an ongoing dialog that has really benefited the entire office. It’s been great.”

Bill Burke speaking at workshop
Bill Burke explains the use of the artificial sky during a tour of the Pacific Energy Center in San Francisco, part of the 2012 workshop. Enlarge [+]
Professor Dana Buntrock and Japanese architect Mr. Masatoyo Ogasawara
Professor Dana Buntrock and Japanese architect Mr. Masatoyo Ogasawara, who participated in the 2012 Berkeley Workshop. Enlarge [+]

Making a Difference

While it may be a while before significant results are achieved, participants are beginning to put their experience to use. Norihisa Kawashima, an architect at Nikken Sekkei who came to Berkeley as a visiting scholar and worked with L+U to learn Berkeley-based simulation approaches, is now back at Nikken Sekkei sharing what he has learned.

Partners from the Tokyo-based ADH Architects, designing publicly financed homes in the earthquake region, have been working with L+U to propose upgraded approaches to efficiency. They will work with another workshop attendee, Dr. Masayuki Mae of the University of Tokyo, to do thermal testing after completion.

Not surprisingly, the workshops have also had an impact on the Berkeley student participants and faculty. David Fannon now works as a building scientist and specialist in high-performance design for Syska Hennessy Group in New York. Kyle Konis was moved after meeting young Japanese designers who, though their lives had been dramatically affected by the disasters, were driven to have a positive impact. Konis now teaches sustainability classes at USC and has incorporated his Japan experience into the themes of his teaching.

“There are social implications to energy,” explains Dana Buntrock. “Without electricity thousands of buildings in Japan became at least temporarily uninhabitable because of poor thermal and day-lighting qualities. Beyond reduced reliance on fossil fuels, which Japan now must consider, energy efficiency has larger implications for human comfort. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to continue working with Japanese colleagues on the energy demands of buildings.”

More information about Architecture.Energy.2011

Apples & Wages

Apples & Wages, an undergraduate urban planning studio project, presents a program to increase food security and employment in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco with a job-training program that offers skill development and employment experience in food preparation and distribution. Taught by Andrea Gaffney and Kimberly Suczynski Smith, the students Dylan Crary, Heather Do, Rebecca Hui, Sandra Lee, and Christina Tanouye come from a wide range of disciplines including urban studies, business, architecture, and political economy.

Team Pride
Team Pride – Apples & Wages Student Team prepares for their final studio presentation. From right to left: Christina Tanouye, Rebecca Hui, Sandra Lee, Dylan Crary, Heather Do. Enlarge [+]

The Story from the Students

The final studio presentation of “Apples & Wages” came a long way from the scattering of ideas that developed at the beginning of spring semester. For the final studio project, our team tackled the broad assignment of creating an innovative economic development proposal for the Tenderloin area of San Francisco. The assignment asked us to propose a long-term plan and a short-term, immediate action in which to test our long-range plan.

Like many good planners, we started our project with extensive background research and numerous site visits. We scanned the study area for possible economic development opportunities that were not directly addressed in the planning studies that we had researched. The corner stores and street culture of the Tenderloin caught our attention as a significant economy, about which we wanted to learn more.

We recorded existing land uses in great detail, noting the businesses and organizations present in the neighborhood. We noticed a disparity in the pricing of fresh food at the corner stores, so we created a map and pricing index to reflect the community’s access to local sources of fresh food. We documented activities on the street and talked with long-time Tenderloin residents to better understand the needs and issues in the neighborhood. From census and planning research, we learned about the high unemployment rate within the working age population of the Tenderloin community. As part of our land use research, we noted Single Resident Occupancy Hotels (SRO’s) as the predominant housing type; there are no kitchens in SROs.

The site visits allowed us to think on our feet and helped us arrive at our idea to propose a job-training program that could also provide access to fresh, healthy food. The idea is surprisingly simple: we propose the creation of a central kitchen where fresh produce could be prepared into healthy meals through the jobs training program, and then sent throughout the Tenderloin on mobile food carts.

Throughout the development of our project, we looked at a variety of precedents and case studies to provide the proof-of-concept for our proposal. We found some excellent examples of programs and organizations at work in the Bay Area and California, from which we developed a kit of parts for our proposal. We also identified a series of funding opportunities and local organizations that might be interested in further developing our idea.

After the final studio presentation, our instructors encouraged us to present “Apples & Wages” to the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and through this exposure, we took advantage of submitting our idea to San Francisco’s Online Ideas Competition for Food Security in the Tenderloin over the summer. Talk about good timing! The jury loved our proposal and we won an internship at the Hub, a social venture incubator space, where we will continue developing our project to turn “Apples & Wages” into a real program for the Tenderloin. Thinking back on all those late nights spent at Wurster Hall, we are tremendously excited to see how all our hard work will truly give back to the community.

Food Cart Placement Strategy
Food Cart Placement Strategy – Food carts are located and moved throughout the Tenderloin during the day to attract a variety of user from Market Street and within the neighborhood. Enlarge [+]
Development Program Structure
Development Program Structure – The program structure builds on basic literacy and math skills to develop professional food service and business management skills. Enlarge [+]
Fresh Food in the Tenderloin
Fresh Food in the Tenderloin – Field research showed that there was a scarcity of fresh fruit and vegetables in the Tenderloin district. Enlarge [+]
Leveraging Community Assets
Leveraging Community Assets – Building on existing community resources in the food justice and job training sectors the Apples & Wages program leverages existing resources to achieve their goals and objectives. Enlarge [+]
Opportunity Sites
Opportunity Sites – Through a site evaluation study of vacant property, proximity to community services and housing the team strategically placed (1) a central kitchen, and food carts on (2) Jones and Turk and (3) Eddy and Leavenworth. Enlarge [+]
Produce Cart on Jones + Turk
Produce Cart on Jones + Turk Enlarge [+]
Street Festival on Ellis between Jones + Taylor
Street Festival on Ellis between Jones + Taylor Enlarge [+]

Dry to Wet: A Network for All Ages

In their second year participating in Vertical Cities Asia, the 5-year series of competitions focused on high-density urbanism in Asia organized by the National University of Singapore School of Design and Environment, two student teams from UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design were presented with the theme, “Everyone Ages.” This year’s competition sought innovative design solutions for a balanced environment for high density urban life addressing the complexities of a rapidly ageing society. Each year, a one square kilometer territory is chosen, with teams challenged to design a visionary and holistic community for 100,000 residents. The solution must incorporate areas for work and recreation with the residential component allowed to comprise only fifty percent of the total site area. This year’s site was located in Yongshan, part of Seoul Metropolitan City, Republic of Korea.

The CED teams, led by Professor of Architecture René Davids, aimed to address the needs of all, removing the barriers created by age, social and family structure, and physical mobility.

Revitalizing the connection to the river through landscape integration and optimizing views, Team A’s entry, Succulent City, embeds a dynamic and productive natural network into the existing urban context. Integrating rainwater collection, grey water filtration, recreational public space and herbal healing practice into a branching building/landscape system, the network weaves into the existing urban fabric at the ground level and extrudes vertically into programmatically efficient, branching towers. The interaction and transition between wet and dry systems permeates the city at every scale, from the urban to the individual.

Inspired by the human aging process, Succulent City nurtures a relationship with the environment through sinuous bioswales and filtration basins that continuously and seasonally evolve, while respecting and responding to the diurnal fluctuations of contemporary urban life. Sculpted by the natural forces on site such as sunlight and wind, and by cultural influences such as feng shui and family relationships, this organic network is oriented along commercial routes to optimize accessibility for everyone.

The building network of towers, ground, and sky branches is thoroughly integrated with the wet and dry landscape, serving all ages with a gradient of mixed-use programs. Views of the river, accessible vertical swales that wrap the buildings, and ground branches that form a familiar commercial continuation of the existing streets, encourage residents and visitors to form a culturally and ecologically dynamic relationship with the landscape.

Succulent City’s approach to the Vertical Cities Asia challenge preserves the deep connection to the site’s historic and contemporary water systems, presenting a dynamic and revitalizing solution that changes, grows and adapts to the evolving needs of its urban population.

More information about the competition:


Student Team

Team A members Aine Coughlan, Kristen Henderson, and Ekaterina Kostyukova are all part of the M.Arch. program in the Department of Architecture at CED.

Designing Sustainable Tourism in the Tlacolula Valley: The Mezcal Route | La Ruta Mezcal

How can tourism improve the lives of poor people? Must tourism always destroy existing cultures? Can indigenous people plan and manage their own tourist resources? These are just a few of the difficult questions that CED students in the graduate studio, “Just” Tourism in the Tlacolula Valley, Oaxaca, grappled with during Spring, 2012.

The studio was based on the idea that to be equitable and sustainable, tourism planning needs to build on the existing environment, society and economies of the local area. Sponsored by the Ministry of Culture of the State of Oaxaca and in collaboration with professors and students from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, students from all three CED departments—Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, and City and Regional Planning—traveled to Oaxaca Valley to investigate its rich history and culture and to understand its current challenges.

Raul Cabra (M.A. Design, 2011)—Director of Oaxacalifornia, a cultural exchange program between Oaxacan craftspeople and California designers, who is also a local resident—led us through ten intensive days of fieldwork that covered nearly every meter of the valley. We surveyed local agriculture and gastronomy, craft traditions, markets that date from pre-Columbian times, unique Zapotec governance systems and the techniques of artisanal mescal production—the most important local industry. We met a range of Valley residents including government officials, returned migrants, organic farmers and American expats.

Returning to Berkeley, we incorporated different concepts from the anthropology of tourism, everyday urban design, local economic development theory, infrastructure planning and land-use law to create a strategic tourism plan for the Valley. Organized around flexible itineraries, the plan makes the valley accessible to tourists while protecting its physical and cultural resources.

Multi-dimensional and decentralized, the plan offers numerous options. Since villages value their independence and autonomy, each element can be adapted to local conditions. Last summer, local officials, businesses, and artisans enthusiastically responded to the Mezcal Route strategy, so we are optimistic that the rest of the plan will have an equally positive impact in Oaxaca.


Why Walls Won’t Work

US-Mexico Boundary Survey Map, 1853, Tijuana section.
US-Mexico Boundary Survey Map, 1853, Tijuana section. LINEA DIVISORIA ENTRE MEXICO Y LOS ESTADOS UNIDOS, Colección Límites México-EEUU, Carpeta No. 4, Lámina No. 54; Autor: Salazar Ilárregui, José, Año 1853. Mapoteca “Manuel Orozco y Berra,” Servicio de Información Estadistica Agroalimentaria y Pesquera, SARGAPA. Reproduced with permission. Digital restoration by Tyson Gaskill.Enlarge [+]

In a now-neglected book entitled Notes on the Synthesis of Form (1964), Christopher Alexander approached design as a question of “goodness of fit” between form and context. I thought about this formulation frequently when I began traveling in 2002 the entire length of the US-Mexico border on both sides, a journey of 4,000 miles. I had the good (or bad) fortune to embark before the US undertook the fortification of the international boundary line and so witnessed the border’s closure, an experience that altered my understanding of both countries.

The US-Mexico borderlands are among the most misunderstood places on earth. The communities along the line are distant from their respective national capitals. They are staunchly independent and composed of many cultures with hybrid loyalties. Nowadays, border states are fast-growing places of teeming contradiction, extremes of wealth and poverty, and vibrant political and cultural change. They are also places of enormous tensions associated with undocumented immigration and drug wars.

Mutual interdependence has been the hallmark of cross-border lives since prehistoric times. After the Spanish conquest, a series of binational “twin cities” sprang up along the line, eventually creating communities of sufficient distinction as to warrant the title of a “third nation,” slotted snugly in the space between the US and Mexico. I came to understand the third nation not as a zone of separation but instead as a connecting membrane. This way of seeing substitutes continuity and coexistence for sovereignty and difference, running counter to conventional wisdom that the border is the place of last resistance against immigrant and terrorist.

Ancient boundary monument No. XVI was a simple pile of stones (early 1850s?)
Ancient boundary monument No. XVI was a simple pile of stones
(early 1850s?). Jacobo Blanco. Memoria de la Sección Mexicana de la Comisión Internacional de Límites entre México y los Estados Unidos que Restableció los Monumentos de El Paso al Pácifico. 1901. Enlarge [+]
Monument No. 258,1851
Monument No. 258,1851. This was the first point (punto inicial) established by the boundary survey following the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The photograph was taken during the last decade of the nineteenth century after the original marble monument had been renovated, and fenced to prevent further vandalism. Jacobo Blanco. Vistas de los Monumentos a lo Largo de la Línea Divisoria entre México y los Estados Unidos de El Paso al Pacífico. 1901. Enlarge [+]
Monument No. 185, c. 1895?
Monument No. 185, c. 1895? The monuments erected during the second boundary survey at the end of the nineteenth century were made from iron. Jacobo Blanco. Vistas de los Monumentos a lo Largo de la Línea Divisoria entre México y los Estados Unidos de El Paso al Pacífico. 1901. Enlarge [+]

In 1848 the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo established the international boundary, which was frequently marked by no more than a pile of stones. A second survey in 1892 added over 200 more boundary monuments. But in the 1990s, responding to increased waves of undocumented crossings from Mexico, large fences sprouted in border cities such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez. Following 9/11, the US unilaterally adopted an aggressive program of fortifying the entire line. The new barriers are without historical precedent, and threaten to suffocate the arteries of communication that supply the third nation’s oxygen.

Border fencing during 1990s Operation Gatekeeper era, near Campo, California
Border fencing during 1990s Operation Gatekeeper era,
near Campo, California. The first modern-day attempts to fortify the boundary line began in the mid-1990s with Operation Hold-the-Line in El Paso, and Operation Gatekeeper in San Diego. The fencing was constructed from left-over aircraft landing mats from the War in Vietnam. Copyright © 2002 Michael Dear. Enlarge [+]
The “Primary Fence” at San Luis Colorado, AZ, 2008
The “Primary Fence” at San Luis Colorado, AZ, 2008. This latest fortification is made from steel manufactured in Vietnam, and includes two noteworthy features: a “lock box” in which a boundary monument is contained; and (at left) a gap that allows passage under the fence. Copyright © 2008 Michael Dear. Enlarge [+]

On the US side, the border was transformed into an archipelago of law enforcement agencies dedicated to the apprehension and deportation of undocumented migrants, and supported by private manufacturing, detention and security corporations. On the Mexican side, the federal government’s war against drug cartels resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and may even have consolidated cartel power.

In places, the new Wall is sinuously beautiful as it snakes through desert, but it can hardly be construed as a good fit! Yet the environmental design responses it has provoked are immensely intriguing in their diversity. The Wall provides a canvas for artworks, or becomes an instrument to be played by musicians; and ‘windows’ cut into the Wall reduce cross-border incidents of rock-throwing. Design professionals are directly engaged in building the rising number of official Ports of Entry that establish new portals in the Wall that shuts out Mexico. My CED colleague Ron Rael has designed water, energy and anti-pollution schemes along the Wall’s length. And people invent surprising ways of going over, under, through and around the Wall.

The “caged fence” outside Mexicali/Calexico, 2008
The “caged fence” outside Mexicali/Calexico, 2008. The new fortifications are manufactured from diverse materials, but recent forms appear to favor some possibility of seeing though to the other side. The fences are invariably built on US soil to ensure ease of access and maintenance, but as a consequence they also conceal and isolate the boundary monuments. In this image, the fence swerves to accommodate a boundary monument. Copyright © 2008 Michael Dear. Enlarge [+]

Ultimately, the Wall separating Mexico and the US will come down. Walls always do. The Wall won’t work because the third nation has strong connective tissue that cannot be undone. The third nation is the place where binational lives and values are being created – organically, readily, and without artifice. It is the place of being and becoming between our two nations.

Ancient Monument No. 1 at El Paso
Ancient Monument No. 1 at El Paso. This border location is especially noteworthy for its complete absence of fortifications. From the left, panel 1 shows the Casa de Adobe, restored headquarters of Mexican Revolution leader Francisco Madero; panel 2, a bust of Madero; panel 3, the berm (with a sign) marking the boundary between the two nations; and panel 4, the ancient monument no. 1. Collage by Michelle Shofet. Copyright © 2011 Michael Dear. Enlarge [+]
Monument 122A, viewed from the Avenida Internacional in Nogales, Sonora
Monument 122A, viewed from the Avenida Internacional in
Nogales, Sonora. A fortuitous vertical stacking of boundary infrastructure portrays the “deep archeology” of the line. The top panel reveals present-day electronic surveillance apparatus; below this is the 1990-era Operation Hold-the-Line fencing; in the third horizon is a monument from the late 19th-century boundary re-survey; and at its base lies a concrete retaining wall that has been spray-painted with symbols of birth and death characteristic of ancient Mesoamerican cultures. Collage by Michelle Shofet. Copyright © 2003 Michael Dear. Enlarge [+]

What should be done about the Wall that so rudely interrupts the third nation? The Berlin Wall was torn down virtually overnight, its fragments sold as souvenirs of a calamitous Cold War; and the Great Wall of China was transformed into a global tourist attraction. Left untended, the US-Mexico Wall would collapse under the combined assault of avid recyclers, souvenir hunters, and people offended by its mere existence. Nevertheless, we should preserve sections of the Wall to commemorate that fraught moment in history when the US lost its moral compass.

Recuerdos/Souvenirs, 2012
Ronald Rael, Recuerdos/Souvenirs, 2012. The border fence is memorialized as a play space. Courtesy of the artist. Copyright © 2012 Ronald Rael. Enlarge [+]

Prizes, Professorships, and (no small) Plans

In this Fall 2012 issue of FRAMEWORKS, I am pleased to offer some important news of the college. First, Deborah Berke, the New York City-based architect widely recognized for her design excellence, scholarly achievement and commitment to moving the practice of architecture forward in innovative ways, has been selected as the first recipient of UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design inaugural 2012 Berkeley-Rupp Architecture Professorship and Prize. I could not be more delighted, for Deborah Berke exemplifies everything this prize is meant to celebrate. The excellence of her craft, her creative approach to sustainability, and her willingness to mentor women in the field and share her ideas and expertise make her the perfect person to receive the inaugural Berkeley-Rupp Prize and Professorship.

Deborah Berke
Deborah Berke Enlarge [+]

The Berkeley-Rupp Prize and ProfessorshipThe Berkeley-Rupp Prize and Professorship, a $100,000 award made possible through a generous bequest to the campus by alumna Sigrid Lorenzen Rupp, is to be awarded biennially to a distinguished practitioner or academic who has made a significant contribution to promoting the advancement of women in the field of architecture, and whose work emphasizes a commitment to sustainability and the community.

Deborah Berke is founder of the New York City-based architecture firm Deborah Berke Partners, and is also an adjunct professor of architectural design at Yale University. Please save the date: Deborah will deliver a public lecture the evening of January 28 at Wurster Hall Gallery at the opening of an exhibit of her work.

C. Greig Crysler
C. Greig Crysler Enlarge [+]

Turning to faculty news, over the past three years, generous donors have endowed four professorial chairs, through $1 million gifts matched by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. I am delighted to report that Associate Professor of Architecture C. Greig Crysler has been appointed the Arcus Chair in Gender, Sexuality, and the Built Environment. Named after the Arcus Foundation, a private philanthropic organization founded by Jon Stryker, the chair builds on the work of the Arcus Endowment he established in 2000. Energetically led by Greig, the Endowment has sponsored a rich program including research grants and awards, installations and exhibits, and a visiting scholar-in-residence program.

Greig’s research focuses on the history of architectural theory, and the role of architecture in processes such as nationalism, globalization, and the cultural politics of difference. His books include, Writing Spaces: Discourses of Architecture, Urbanism and the Built Environment, 1960–2000 (2003) and he is co-editor, with Stephen Cairns and Hilde Heynen, of the Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory (2012). Greig, who served as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies from 2008–2012, offers courses at the intersection between architecture, ethics and activism.

Lastly, I am happy to report that CED has embarked on an ambitious strategic planning exercise. The College of Environmental Design, founded in 1959, was premised on a shared vision and deep commitments to social responsibility, a place-based approach to design, and allowing students to shape their educational experience. With generous state resources, CED faculty went on to build specific disciplinary strengths and pedagogical models that together became the enduring signature of the college. Fast forward to today, and it is clear things have radically changed. New challenges face cities and regions around the world. Faculty have new interests, intellectual frameworks and methodological tools. Different sorts of careers are open to those with a CED degree. And with less than 11% of UC Berkeley’s revenue coming from state general funds, the financial context of UC Berkeley and hence the college is very different compared to 1959.

Wurster Hall
Coming Soon in 2013: Berkeley Circus and Soiree Enlarge [+]

With these dynamics in mind, I asked the CED faculty last spring to undertake a strategic plan for the college. The basic charge was to address three fundamental questions: What new societal problems, intellectual arenas, and design challenges should we tackle in the future? How should our pedagogy change to reflect these new directions? And how can we maintain both academic excellence and access to a CED education?

The faculty response was enthusiastic and positive. Together, we are committed to producing a brief, elegant statement of vision and values developed on the basis of input from faculty, alumni, students, and staff. We will also establish a series of concrete, funded initiatives that will move us from vision to implementation. In the process, we aim to invent a college culture and practice for the 21st century.

Collaborative Planning in Nairobi’s Informal Settlements

In the informal settlements of one of Africa’s most impoverished cities, Department of City & Regional Planning (DCRP) students are working to make a difference in the lives of the urban poor.

Collaborative planning studio between CED and the University of Nairobi Department of Urban and Regional Planning
Nairobi’s Settlements Enlarge [+]

The second collaborative planning studio between the department and the University of Nairobi Department of Urban and Regional Planning took place during the Spring and Summer of 2011. Organized and directed by Associate Professor Jason Corburn, eight DCRP, Architecture, Energy and Resources Group, and Public Health students joined their Kenyan counterparts to work with settlement residents on an integrated upgrading plan. The interdisciplinary team built upon collaborative work that began in 2008.

This year’s studio aimed to develop plans to improve living conditions for over 150,000 slum dwellers in the Mathare Valley informal settlement, a few kilometers from the center of Nairobi. The studio included analyzing existing conditions data and policy processes in Nairobi, workshops with our NGO partners, Muungano Support Trust (MuST) and Slum Dwellers International (SDI) in Berkeley, and over two weeks in Nairobi in May 2011. Berkeley students participated in planning meetings with settlement residents and other stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations, UN-HABITAT, UN Environment Program (UNEP), the World Bank, and local government agencies. The studio team will complete a comprehensive plan in December 2011.

Mathare Valley informal settlement
Nairobi’s Settlements Enlarge [+]

The work within the Mathare Valley comes at a critical moment. More than 65% of Nairobi’s 3.5 million residents live in informal settlements and this number is increasing. In the Mathare Valley slum, residents face the constant threat of eviction, families live on less than $5 dollars per day, electricity is intermittent, and it is common for over 500 people to share one water tap and toilet. Recognizing these intolerable conditions, the Kenyan Government and the World Bank have committed to a policy and financing for major slum improvement programs across the country. And NGOs, particularly MuST, are helping community-led movements advocate and win support for living condition policy reforms.

Salma Mousallem, a studio participant and MCP student noted, “What struck me most was how proactive community residents were in making a change. Already hard pressed for time, they engaged in a lengthy process of community mapping for the project. To me, this showed the resilience of the community.”

Collaborative planning studio participants
Nairobi’s Settlements Enlarge [+]

In spite of many hardships, the residents of Mathare Valley bring numerous assets to the planning process. Many residents are well educated and have deep expertise in community needs and the complexity of political negotiation. Many women run small businesses, manage families, and participate in community institution building, making their knowledge an asset. The team met many young people in Mathare who were active in sanitation projects, waste recycling, media and art campaigns and technology. Unlike other outsiders, we aimed to make community expertise a central part of our collaborative planning and design process.

Collaborative planning studio
Nairobi’s Settlements Enlarge [+]

Marcy Monroe, an architecture student who participated in the Nairobi studio, noted that the inequalities and injustices that contribute to informal urban settlements like the Mathare Valley are “incapable of being solved by a single profession or individual.”

According to Professor Jason Corburn, “The studios are one aspect of our long-term commitment to working collaboratively with our Kenyan partners. The studios are important for building trust with residents and our NGO partners, and linking research with tangible, short-term improvements. Yet, we are also working collaboratively to change national and local policies that penalize slum dwellers and are supporting a global network of “slum resident planners,” called Slum Dwellers International, in the hope that our students, in some small way, are contributing to global change.”

Everyone Needs Fresh Air!

In the Summer of 2011, the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley had the privilege of being among a small number of distinguished international universities invited by the National University of Singapore to compete in a 5-year series of urban architecture competitions, Vertical Cities Asia. The competition focuses on the pressing issues of rapidly developing Asian cities, each year highlighting one primary quality-of-life issue, and sited in one exemplary Asian city. This first year’s theme was Everyone Needs Fresh Air, for a project in Chengdu, China.

Urban residents often experience increased access to economic, social and cultural opportunities but also have to tolerate pollution, reduced access to air and light, and higher stress levels. The project presents an opportunity to rethink the development of the contemporary city.
Vertical Cities Enlarge [+]Urban residents often experience increased access to economic, social and cultural opportunities but also have to tolerate pollution, reduced access to air and light, and higher stress levels. The project presents an opportunity to rethink the development of the contemporary city.

The ancient and rapidly developing city of Chengdu offered a unique challenge for radical new vertical density, requiring close study of a broad range of natural, technological, and cultural conditions. Competing schools marshaled interdisciplinary student teams of architects, landscape architects, planners and urban designers with a goal of developing provocative solutions for a dense urban community of 100,000 people.

Early design investigation included travel to China to study the city of Chengdu, and seminars and meetings with faculty and researchers from Tongji University, Sichuan University, and The Sichuan Institute of Architecture and Urban Design. The design process required significant thought as to structure, program, systems and urban function as an integrated design problem inviting many avenues for creative solutions.

The environmental strategy is comprehensive. It ranges across all scales and takes advantage of local conditions and the building’s height.
Vertical Cities Enlarge [+]The environmental strategy is comprehensive. It ranges across all scales and takes advantage of local conditions and the building’s height.

Student teams presented their work, which was judged during the week of July 5th in Singapore, at an international symposium on vertical city design. Judging was based on five criteria: sustainability, quality of life, feasibility/buildability, cultural/environmental appropriateness, and technical innovation. Although the UC Berkeley team did not garner the competition prize, their work was well received, and the experience was of great value.

More information about this project:

Team “B”

Team Members:

  • Fang Huan
  • Mengxi Wu
  • Phi Tran
  • Michael Song
  • Alexandra Harker
  • Warner Brown
  • Zach Streitz
“Air Quality” Green Belt
Vertical Cities Enlarge [+]“Air Quality” Green Belt
Facade as Dynamic Biofiltration Element
Vertical Cities Enlarge [+]Facade as Dynamic Biofiltration Element
Ventilation and Humidity Harvesting Systems
Vertical Cities Enlarge [+]Ventilation and Humidity Harvesting Systems
An integrated network dynamically controls temperature and pressure differentials throughout the city. As such the city functions as a part of the local ecology and landscape, as a small mountain. It is a smart mountain capable of optimizing its climate and energy use to suit both the needs of its inhabitants and its surroundings.
Vertical Cities Enlarge [+]An integrated network dynamically controls temperature and pressure differentials throughout the city. As such the city functions as a part of the local ecology and landscape, as a small mountain. It is a smart mountain capable of optimizing its climate and energy use to suit both the needs of its inhabitants and its surroundings.

LAEP Students Win Two 2010 ASLA Student Awards

Students in the Department of Landscape and Environmental Planning (LAEP) won two top awards in the American Society of Landscape Architects’ 2010 ASLA Student Awards competition.

Cecil Howell won the Award of Excellence in the General Design Category for her project, “Vacant Lot Library.” Adjunct Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning David Meyer advised Howell on the project. “Vacant Lot Library” proposed creating a network of outdoor libraries with the vacant lots scattered throughout San Francisco. By converting these spaces into learning landscapes, Howell asserts, San Francisco will have transformed the forgotten lots into public spaces that support creativity, education, and community.

The Landscape Progress Administration, a collaboration of six LAEP students, won the Award of Excellence in the Community Service Category. Hugo Bruley, Eustacia Brossart, Kirsten Dahl, Jesse Jones, Clare O’Reilly, and Adrienne Smith comprised the design team, which was advised by Associate Adjunct Professor Marcia McNally. The organization took action against the slashed budgets for public programs across the state. The team reached out to public schools and parks impacted by the budget cuts by volunteering both time and expertise in support of public landscapes.

Award of Excellence Vacant Lot Library

Cecil Howell, Student ASLA, College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley

Faculty Adviser: David Meyer

Vacant Lot Library site plan.
Figure 1 Enlarge [+]Vacant Lot Library site plan.

Project Statement

San Francisco is dotted with vacant lots, unused and often-forgotten spaces concentrated in the poorest neighborhoods of the city. This project proposes creating a network of outdoor libraries within vacant lots. By converting these spaces into learning landscapes, San Francisco will invest in the knowledge of its citizens and transform the forgotten into public spaces that help support creativity, education, and community, the foundation for a truly sustainable city.

City-scale diagrams illustrating the development of the mobile library system. From left to right, vacant lots in San Francisco; vacant lots within one-quarter of a mile of a school; potential educational network created through the mobile library system.
Figure 2 Enlarge [+]City-scale diagrams illustrating the development of the mobile library system. From left to right, vacant lots in San Francisco; vacant lots within one-quarter of a mile of a school; potential educational network created through the mobile library system.

Project Narrative


At the city-scale, this project proposes a new infrastructure of learning landscapes that is part site and part mobile library. The sites are selected due to their proximity to a school; each site is within one-quarter of a mile of a school. While students are not the only users of the vacant-lot libraries, they are an important element in maintaining the vitality of each site. The schools are not only visitors to the site, but can also help determine the content, either by helping to design the site or through displays, projects, and program. A mobile bus provides additional content, as well as helps to connect the sites together. The bus would bring not only books to the sites, but also science projects, artwork, and essays from other schools to create an exchange of knowledge and ideas throughout the city.


This project explores the design possibilities for one site, a vacant lot located at 5th and Folsom Streets in the South of Market district of San Francisco (SOMA). The area around 5th and Folsom used to be completely industrial, and while there is still some light industry, mostly auto body shops, it is transforming into a more residential neighborhood. Nine schools lie within walking distance to the park, including several elementary and nursery schools, a university of law, city college, and a medical college. These institutions are predominantly located to the north and east of the site.

Typical of industrial areas, there is very little public space in the neighborhood, even though there is an influx of residents and there has always been a large population of workers. This site, in addition to becoming a learning landscape, provides much-needed outdoor space to the workers, customers, residents, and students of the area.

Left, location of schools surrounding 900 Folsom Street. Right, spatial Gestalt based on access points. The smaller circles create read nooks, while the larger circles form classrooms.
Figure 3 Enlarge [+]Left, location of schools surrounding 900 Folsom Street. Right, spatial Gestalt based on access points. The smaller circles create read nooks, while the larger circles form classrooms.
Site-scale diagrams. From top to bottom, panel size widens as the radius of the wall increases; both program and materials change depending on the type of environment that the wall is creating; trees grow in height as the space becomes more open; wood decking and dark gravel interweave in order to create a surface for sitting on.
Figure 4 Enlarge [+]Site-scale diagrams. From top to bottom, panel size widens as the radius of the wall increases; both program and materials change depending on the type of environment that the wall is creating; trees grow in height as the space becomes more open; wood decking and dark gravel interweave in order to create a surface for sitting on.

The Wall

The primary design move is an interactive wall that weaves through the site, creating learning spaces as well as providing knowledge. Looking to the library as a source of inspiration, the wall creates both small spaces for private and quiet learning as well as large rooms that can be used as classrooms and activity centers. Since the majority of students will be approaching the site from the southwest, the more active areas are in the southwest corner of the site, while the quieter areas are tucked toward the south end of the site. The wall is eight feet tall and constructed of rotating panels; each panel has information inscribed or mounted on it. By rotating the panels, the user is able to pull information out of the wall as she turns it — a movement inspired by the act of removing a book from a bookshelf. While the higher panels feature information for adults, the lower panels are designed for children and include number, color, and shape games, turning the wall into an enormous puzzle.

Views Wall as it weaves through the site. 1?=16? scale model.
Figure 5 Enlarge [+]Views Wall as it weaves through the site. 1?=16? scale model.

Along the wall, the content and material varies, responding to the type of space created. In the southwest corner, the space is divided into small reading rooms. Here, the content is permanent, including displays on the natural and social history of San Francisco, pieces of poetry, and other literature. The panels are constructed from aluminum, with the information etched onto them. The metal supports the permanence of the display as well as reflects light down into the rooms. In several spots, panels fold out to become seats, in addition to the benches and moveable chairs that dot the site.

Moving along the wall into the larger spaces, the content becomes more interactive and temporary. Nearby schools, as well as any local businesses or art, science, and tech groups, can take responsibility for a portion of the wall. These rotating exhibitions of work create an opportunity for people to display their knowledge and creativity as well as interact with their neighbors. The wall facilitates strange pairings, such as having an elementary school and a law school adjacent to each other, creating new opportunities for exchange and inspiration. In this area, the panels vary in material, from wood to aluminum mesh to cork-board, all of which are designed with clips and other mounting methods in order to facilitate the exhibits.

View of wall as it weaves through the pear and apple trees.
Figure 6 Enlarge [+]View of wall as it weaves through the pear and apple trees.
View of wall and the mobile library parking area.
Figure 7 Enlarge [+]View of wall and the mobile library parking area.
View of outdoor classrooms. Site is equipped with portable furniture as well as benches built into the wall and on the wood decking.
Figure 8 Enlarge [+]View of outdoor classrooms. Site is equipped with portable furniture as well as benches built into the wall and on the wood decking.
View of reading nooks. The smaller plum trees help frame these spaces, transforming them into small rooms.
Figure 9 Enlarge [+]View of reading nooks. The smaller plum trees help frame these spaces, transforming them into small rooms.

There are two classrooms on the site, both formed by large sweeping curves of the wall. Within these bulbs, the wall mimics the information found inside a science, history, or mathematics classroom, complete with periodic tables, maps, and formulas. Several panels together form large chalkboards and corkboards, allowing for easy teaching and amendment. Seating in these areas is primarily moveable chairs, for increased flexibility.

The mobile library enters the site at the north end. This area is very open, in order for the library to have the room to display the books and projects that it carries from school to school. This area is the main plaza of the site, and the wall supports this activity hub by displaying content that varies almost daily, including newspapers, videos, and message boards.

Perspective of small reading nook. The wood decking provides a soft surface on which to sit and lie, creating an ideal place to read and think.
Figure 10 Enlarge [+]Perspective of small reading nook. The wood decking provides a soft surface on which to sit and lie, creating an ideal place to read and think.
Perspective of large outdoor classroom. The wall in this area is made up of aluminum panels, chalkboards, corkboards, and other tools for interactive learning.
Figure 11 Enlarge [+]Perspective of large outdoor classroom. The wall in this area is made up of aluminum panels, chalkboards, corkboards, and other tools for interactive learning.
One-half-scale model of Vacant Lot Library wall.
Figure 12 Enlarge [+]One-half-scale model of Vacant Lot Library wall.
One-half-scale model of Vacant Lot Library wall.
Figure 13 Enlarge [+]One-half-scale model of Vacant Lot Library wall.

Orchard and Surface

Besides the wall, the site is composed of two other components: a bosque of fruit trees and a changing ground plane. The fruit trees help the site become active by providing a resource to the community. Within the quieter areas, the trees are planted more densely and are a small variety of plums, creating domes for the reading rooms. Moving out toward the more active areas, the trees become more spread-out and are larger varieties. The species changes from plum to pear trees and finally apple trees. This helps open the spaces up, while at the same time provides a canopy to create a more comfortable climate.

The ground plane also changes with the gradient of the trees and wall. While the predominant surface material is structural gravel, bands of wood decking interrupt the gravel wherever there are trees. The wood provides a soft surface for lying or sitting on as well as a feeling of warmth to the site. The simplicity of the ground plane directs the focus towards the wall and the knowledge it contains.

Perspective of pear bosque in the springtime.
Figure 14 Enlarge [+]Perspective of pear bosque in the springtime.
Material palette. Materials incorporated into the site include corkboards, chalkboards, newspaper racks, graffiti walls, message boards, aluminum panels, fruit trees, gravel, and wood decking.
Figure 15 Enlarge [+]Material palette. Materials incorporated into the site include corkboards, chalkboards, newspaper racks, graffiti walls, message boards, aluminum panels, fruit trees, gravel, and wood decking.

Award of Excellence Landscape Progress Administration

Hugo Bruley, Student ASLA; Eustacia Brossart, Student ASLA; Kirsten Dahl, Student ASLA; Jesse Jones, Student ASLA; Clare O’Reilly, Student ASLA; and Adrienne Smith, Student ASLA. College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley.

Faculty Adviser: Marcia McNally

Landscape Progress Administration: Community Service Locations.
Figure 1 Enlarge [+]Landscape Progress Administration: Community Service Locations.
California’s Budget Crisis: Cutting Holes in Institutions We Value.
Figure 2 Enlarge [+]California’s Budget Crisis: Cutting Holes in Institutions We Value.

Project Statement

In the wake of California’s 2009 budget crisis, funding was slashed to public programs across the state. As we saw staff and faculty furloughed and student services threatened in our own Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at UC Berkeley, we took action. Our student group led a participatory process to reach out to public schools and parks similarly impacted by the budget cuts. Dubbing ourselves the Landscape Progress Administration, our department volunteered both time and expertise in support of public landscapes.

Project Narrative

In 2009, the California state legislature slashed the public higher education budget by $2 billion as part of a package of cuts to close a $26 billion state budget gap. This led to layoffs and graduated furloughs for all faculty and staff at UC Berkeley, resulting in fewer teaching days during the fall 2009 semester. Our college budget suffered a 16% cut in 2010, with deeper cuts promised the following year. Landscape architecture department members were also disturbed by the decline in state funding for places important to our profession, such as public parks and open spaces, as well as cuts suffered by the entire public school system.

In response, landscape architecture students, faculty, and staff initiated a constructive effort to mitigate and draw attention to the impacts of state-funding shortfalls on public landscapes and schools. Under the banner of the Landscape Progress Administration, our department took advantage of university-mandated furlough days to volunteer our time and expertise at a state park, public schools, and around our campus in an effort to make a difference within public landscapes and institutions that are facing similar state funding cuts.

The number of hours invested by the Landscape Progress Administration volunteers would equal five months of one person’s full-time, eight-hour work days.
Figure 3 Enlarge [+]The number of hours invested by the Landscape Progress Administration volunteers would equal five months of one person’s full-time, eight-hour work days.

The idea for a service-based response was introduced at a town hall meeting on the first day of classes, during which our department chair proposed using the furlough days at the end of the semester for volunteer service. Students, faculty, and staff voted enthusiastically in favor of carrying out community service projects, and agreed that the organization and implementation of the project should be student-led. We volunteered to facilitate the project as part of our coursework for our class in citizen participation in community design and planning.

During the semester, we met with department members to determine goals to be achieved through project implementation, selected appropriate volunteer projects, and organized implementation. The first step was the “Courtyard Call to Service.” To make the connection between budget cuts and the need for community-service action, we organized students in our department to clean up, weed, and prune a neglected courtyard adjacent to our college’s building to coincide with a statewide walkout protesting the state’s disinvestment in the public university system. After we introduced the service-project concept, we conducted a student survey and interviewed faculty and staff to gather information about their priorities and project ideas. At a series of department-wide town hall meetings, we presented survey and interview results, set goals, and compiled a list of public landscapes and organizations that were also hit hard by state budget cuts and that could use help from our department. During one meeting, students, faculty, and staff voted to name the project the Landscape Progress Administration. By referencing the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration, students sought to bring attention to hard times — including unemployment at its highest rate since the Great Depression — and to call for a civic-minded spirit of public investment that we believe is currently lacking in our state.

Through the participatory process, and working with staff on campus and at other public institutions, we selected several service projects. Some projects were specific to the curriculum and skills of a particular course, and some were open to the entire department and other willing volunteers from outside the department. During the final week of the semester, over three hundred students, faculty, and staff volunteered their time.

University Campus — Analyzing and Mitigating: Invasive Species Removal, Tree Census, Water Conservation.
Figure 4 Enlarge [+]University Campus — Analyzing and Mitigating: Invasive Species Removal, Tree Census, Water Conservation.

Students of the Sustainable Landscapes and Cities class made ornate banners to display at each project site, promoting awareness of environmental issues, landscape architecture, community service, and civic investment. Other students undertook research and maintenance projects on our university campus. To compensate for lost staff time in the campus creek restoration program, one hundred volunteers removed invasive species from a creek corridor, making space for native riparian species. Eighty students in an introductory environmental design class learned about water conservation and building science through an audit of bathroom fixtures in campus buildings to identify those that consumed too much water. Ecological analysis students conducted a census of campus trees, updating an obsolete map. In addition, several geographic information systems students worked with local community organizations to provide needed mapping and analysis services.

Off campus, students from our department built relationships across educational boundaries by engaging middle and high school students. We developed two days of hands-on curricula for middle school students. Department members taught sixth-grade earth science students in their schoolyard, measuring surface permeability and examining the effects of simulated pollution on makeshift watershed models. Volunteers and students from the after-school garden program planted drought-tolerant species on school grounds. Students also introduced the children to the field of landscape architecture and helped them design and draw new plans for their school grounds. Across town at a high school suffering from staff layoffs, twenty-seven department members worked with high school students to build a coop for chickens raised in a biology class, weed and water the neglected edible school garden, create garden signage, and decorate the compost bin with educational messages.

Further afield, twenty-two members of the department worked with four volunteer coordinators to clear, re-grade, prune, and maintain approximately one mile of an overgrown hiking trail in a state park. Steep state funding cuts and the threat of closure forced park staff layoffs and furloughs along with cuts to hours and services. Our labor saved the park $4,500 and provided 165 hours of service.

High School — Building Edible Landscapes: Chicken-Coop Construction, Vegetable Garden, and Compost Maintenance.
Figure 5 Enlarge [+]High School — Building Edible Landscapes: Chicken-Coop Construction, Vegetable Garden, and Compost Maintenance.

Public reaction to the Landscape Progress Administration was overwhelmingly positive. Local news media covered some of the projects. The middle and high school students and teachers, the state parks volunteer coordinator, and our campus staff all expressed appreciation and great interest in continuing to work with our department. We conducted a follow-up student survey and discussed the project with faculty. All parties agreed that the volunteer experience was rewarding, and that the department should continue to work with these and similar institutions every year. We then traveled to Sacramento and met with seven state legislature staff members, advocating for greater public investment, both from taxpayers and the state to fund public landscapes and education, and from citizens through volunteering in the landscapes and schools that make our state great. Staff members told us that although the outlook is grim for increased state funding of public education and landscapes, they were delighted with our volunteer work and encouraged us to continue.

Community Response — Thank-you notes from schools.
Figure 6 Enlarge [+]Community Response — Thank-you notes from schools.

Over the course of the semester, we learned a great deal about organizing and managing groups, soliciting community participation in a democratic and iterative process, bridging institutional barriers, and the joy of teaching and volunteering within our valued public landscapes. Plans are currently under way to return to the state park and schools in the fall, and we hope that the Landscape Progress Administration will continue to cultivate relationships, awareness, and civic investment across public institutional boundaries.

The Arcus Chair in Gender, Sexuality, and the Built Environment

The College of Environmental Design recently announced a gift of $1 million from Jon L. Stryker that, combined with a match from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, will create a new $2 million endowed CED chair named the Arcus Chair in Gender, Sexuality, and the Built Environment. The chair is named for the Arcus Foundation, a private philanthropic organization founded by Jon Stryker that advances social justice and conservation issues internationally. The foundation maintains offices in Kalamazoo, Michigan; New York City; and Cambridge, UK. The creation of an endowed chair marks a new phase in Jon Stryker’s commitment to the college. The connection began in 2000 with the gift from the foundation that launched CED’s Arcus Endowment, a unique fund that has supported a wide array of critical and creative activities at the intersection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) issues and architecture, city and regional planning, and landscape architecture.

For the first half of the last decade, the Arcus Endowment held an annual competition for small-grant funding to support an ambitious range of projects, including cutting-edge research, archival documentation, innovative teaching programs, and design activities, all centered on LGBTQ issues. The diverse results of the endowment’s awards program continue to enrich our understanding of cities, landscapes, and built environments by opening the various processes that shape design research, education, and practice to LGBTQ perspectives. Susan Stryker (no relation to Jon Stryker), a well-known Bay Area activist and associate professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Indiana at Bloomington, and Victor Silverman, an independent filmmaker and professor of history at Pomona College, received funds to complete research for the documentary film Screaming Queens: The Riots at Compton Cafeteria. Based on a script co-authored by Stryker and Silverman, the film won an Emmy and was also shown on PBS. The film tells the story behind the 1966 riots in San Francisco by transgender people against discriminatory policing. The Arcus Endowment also funded the design of an innovative temporary housing project by architect Sonny Ward using recycled cardboard to create shelters at Camp Sister Spirit, a feminist retreat and women’s safe space in rural Ovett, Mississippi. Other initiatives include an LGBTQ heritage map for walking tours of Seattle, Washington. The maps were produced by cultural geographers of queer space Larry Knopp (University of Washington at Tacoma) and Michael Brown (University of Washington at Seattle) in collaboration with the Northwest Gay and Lesbian History Museum Project. Some of the endowment’s other projects flared brightly and had a brief but memorable impact, such as the events staged by an energetic but relatively short-lived CED student group irreverently called Queers in Space. Film nights, discussion groups, the production of a group website, and a design charrette for a possible LGBTQ history museum in San Francisco were part of the mix.

Jon L. Stryker
Jon L. Stryker

In 2006, the endowment shifted its resources towards creating a scholar-in-residence program. The first scholar, Annmarie Adams, was resident in 2008. Adams, a graduate of UC Berkeley’s M.Arch. and Ph.D. programs, is currently the William C. Macdonald Professor at the School of Architecture at McGill University. During her residency, she initiated an interdisciplinary seminar on sexuality and space entitled Sex and the Single Building, attended by students from CED and a wide cross-section of campus departments. She also completed a research project on the Weston Havens house, a seminal example of mid-century Bay Area modernism now owned by CED. Her Havens house research was published in the spring 2010 issue of Buildings and Landscapes; a second project, begun in Berkeley in 2008, on gender-variant children and their bedrooms, was recently featured in the German journal FKW//Zeitschrift fur geschlechterforschung und visuelle kultur. In September 2010, Adams became the director of the McGill Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, where she continues to draw upon insights gained during her year as the Arcus scholar-in-residence. The New York architect and Yale University professor Joel Sanders also completed a residency in the spring of 2010. He delivered a public lecture and taught an intensive interdepartmental seminar, both entitled “Human/Nature: Gender Sexuality and the Landscape Architecture Divide,” that explored how the design approaches and codes of professional conduct that separate architects and landscape architects are rooted in cultural conceptions about gender and sexuality. Research conducted at Berkeley formed the basis of his forthcoming book Groundworks: Between Landscape and Architecture (co-edited with Diana Balmori), to be released by Monacelli Press in the fall of 2011. Over the years, the Arcus Endowment has also sponsored an annual lecture as part of the Department of Architecture’s spring lecture series. Past speakers have included Alice T. Friedman, Professor of Architectural History at Wellesley College and author of Women and the Making of the Modern House, and Henry Urbach, Curator of Architecture and Design at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Though funding for the Arcus Endowment came from the Arcus Foundation, the visionary thinking behind the gift belongs to Jon Stryker, a graduate (1989) of the M.Arch. program at CED. After he left CED, he went on to work in architectural practice in Kalamazoo, Michigan (his hometown), before establishing the foundation in 2000. The knowledge Jon gained of the profession, both through his own experiences and those of his friends and colleagues across the United States, convinced him of the need for an endowment that would support and make the contributions of LGBTQ professionals better known, while also working to combat homophobia at school, in professional institutions, and in the workplace.

As program director for the endowment from its inception until 2010, I worked alongside Department of Architecture faculty members Paul Groth and Roddy Creedon, Environmental Design Archives Curator Waverly Lowell, CED Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs Gary Brown, and a national advisory board to shape the direction of the endowment. There was a mutual understanding from the beginning of the historic nature of the fund, to our knowledge the only one of its kind in a similar institutional setting anywhere in the world. We all benefited from Jon’s encouragement and enthusiasm. In the first few years, when the endowment was getting off the ground, he attended annual lectures and expressed an interest in the outcomes of the awards program. His experience as president of the Arcus Foundation has proved invaluable over the years as we developed the endowment’s agenda and its outlook matured.

The establishment of the Arcus Chair in Gender, Sexuality, and the Built Environment opens a new chapter in CED’s efforts to develop pedagogy focused on design and difference. The new position will enable CED to build on the energy and excitement of the Arcus Endowment and lead the way in creating more equitable environments for LGBTQ communities in the Bay Area and internationally.