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.

Studying the Benefits of Accessory Dwelling Units

Left, 1415 Allston Way; right, 1843 Berryman Street.
Left, 1415 Allston Way; right, 1843 Berryman Street.

Students and faculty at the College of Environmental Design have long designed creative approaches to increasing density in residential neighborhoods. But California’s implementation of SB 375, the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008, is putting new pressure on communities to support infill development. So the timing could not be more perfect for the Institute of Urban and Regional Development’s Center for Community Innovation to study small-scale infill, specifically, the potential impact of an accessory dwelling unit strategy in the East Bay.

In-law units, or accessory dwelling units (ADUs), are self-contained, smaller living units on the lot of a single-family home. They can be either attached to the primary house, such as an above-the-garage unit or a basement unit, or, as is more typical in Berkeley, an independent cottage or carriage-house. They are an easy way to provide homeowners with flexible space for a home office or an on-site caregiver, additional rental income, or a space for elderly family members to remain in a family environment. In short, they offer the kind of flexibility that has become imperative in today’s world to accommodate fluctuating work schedules and alternative family arrangements.

Left, 2601 Derby Street; right, 1822 Virginia Street.
Left, 2601 Derby Street; right, 1822 Virginia Street.

The concept, often termed “invisible density” or “distributed housing,” is hardly a new idea — indeed, the practice of building a supplementary unit behind a main house has been prevalent in Berkeley and throughout the East Bay for over a century. But ADUs particularly fit the context of Berkeley’s flatlands, with their historically “blue-collar urban form.” These “minimal-bungalow” districts are characterized by neat regularity, uniform land use, and little change — making them ideal for ADU development. Developers in the 1910s and 1920s widened the lots from 25 feet to 40 feet, created uniform setbacks, and supplied single backyard garages in order to maintain lower densities in the neighborhood. CED Professor Paul Groth argues that this uniformity was meant to create more predictable land values and erase the visual evidence of class struggle seen in more mixed-use, informal districts by imposing middle-class values. But today, the wide lots and historic garages provide an opportunity for infill.

ADUs provide benefits for both society and individuals. As infill development, they make efficient and “green” use of existing infrastructure and help increase densities to levels at which transit becomes viable — yet with lower costs and quicker permitting processes than for larger, multi-family building types. Because ADUs tend to be relatively small and their amenities modest, they provide more affordable housing options (at less than one-third of the cost of comparable units in multi-family buildings). Oftentimes, these units are the only rental housing available in older, predominantly single-family neighborhoods, making it possible for people from all walks of life to live in the area. Yet, they also significantly improve the value of the property, in essence constituting an asset-building strategy for homeowners.

Left, Ventura Avenue at Marin Avenue; right, Edwards Street at Channing Way.
Left, Ventura Avenue at Marin Avenue; right, Edwards Street at Channing Way.

The Center for Community Innovation (CCI) is studying the potential to add detached ADUs on single-family lots in Berkeley and other East Bay cities as a way to moderately increase density, provide homeowners with extra income, and create affordable rental units — all while preserving the character of existing neighborhoods. Based solely on lot size requirements and the square footage of existing structures, tens of thousands of homeowners could construct ADUs. However, a closer look at city regulations reveals other barriers to scaling up the strategy. Most importantly, most cities require the property to provide space for two parking spots — one for the existing single-family home, and another for the ADU.

CCI is studying ways to relax these off-street parking requirements without contributing to neighborhood parking problems. In neighborhoods near Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stations, residents may not need to own a car, particularly if car sharing is available. Car sharing services like Zipcar and City CarShare allow members to access a car whenever they need one, without the hassle of owning — and parking — their own individual vehicles. By finding ways to integrate ADU development with transit ridership and car sharing, CCI hopes to facilitate the development of sustainable, affordable housing options in Berkeley’s neighborhoods. The study will be available by fall 2011.

Virginia Street.
Virginia Street.

But the biggest barrier is perhaps psychological. Homeowners regularly fight neighbors’ plans to alter their property. Though they may object to a building’s form and appearance, or the loss of privacy in their own backyards, more likely they are concerned about the impacts of increased car parking on the street. Sensing the objections of the neighbors, homeowners balk at improving their own property, even if it makes financial sense. And ironically, the homeowners who would most benefit from the improvement — whether because they live in older small houses or because their family income is unstable — are often themselves reluctant or fearful of assuming the new financial obligation.

The best way to overcome these fears is by demonstrating the benefits and value of ADUs. Luckily, a CED class on sustainable design, taught by Ashok Gadgil from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, was the genesis of a demonstration project — a model cottage in my West Berkeley backyard. Students analyzed zoning requirements and developed preliminary designs for a net-zero-energy cottage. Energy efficiency measures, such as well-insulated walls, reduce the building’s electricity usage, while a new solar photovoltaic system removes the cottage and the main house from the electricity grid. Built for $100,000, and rented for $1,200 per month, the cottage not only makes financial sense but also demonstrates how careful design can make a small space beautiful. That there is significant interest in the idea became apparent during our open house in January 2011, which attracted almost 500 people.

Net-zero-energy affordable unit located in author Karen Chapple’s backyard.
Net-zero-energy affordable unit located in author Karen Chapple’s backyard.

The next step is to demonstrate the value of scaling up an ADU strategy. The CCI study is analyzing the potential impact of constructing thousands of these units in the East Bay. In economic terms, the impact is significant. A $100,000 ADU generates an additional $80,000 of indirect and induced spending in the economy, and if most purchases are made locally, each ADU creates one year-long local job. Thus, construction of 4,000 ADUs locally would mean 4,000 local jobs. New property taxes could feed city coffers. And, each net-zero-energy ADU creates energy savings that impact the local economy. If households save $25 in energy costs each month, construction of 4,000 ADUs could thus mean an additional $1.8 million spent on local goods and services each year. If the new households are clustered, they may be able to help the region’s struggling retail corridors become more viable.

Other impacts we are evaluating pertain more to resource use, particularly in California. Distributed generation will reduce dependence on utility-produced energy. Incorporation of greywater systems — for instance, recycling water for irrigation needs — at a large scale could reduce pressure on California’s water supply. And clustered demand for alternative transportation modes could make local car share and transit systems more sustainable.

Ultimately, though, an academic study will not persuade policymakers to scale up this strategy. What should happen next is another demonstration project, this time on a larger scale. What if the local utility, water, housing, and transit agencies, working closely with the cities, sponsored a pilot program that incentivizes homeowners to build 100 ADUs in the region? Such a pilot could help overcome homeowner inertia, and would also demonstrate the benefits of scale to the agencies themselves. The precedent for this exists in the pilot energy-efficiency programs that cities, funded by federal stimulus dollars, have been offering to local homeowners. CED and its research centers look forward to providing a venue that spurs this conversation — and results in a more sustainable Bay Area and California.

Building the Sukkah of the Signs

The Sukkah of the Signs

The Sukkah of the Signs, also known as The Homeless House project, was constructed in New York City’s Union Square as part of Sukkah City, an international design competition to re-imagine the ancient building type of sukkah and propose radical possibilities for traditional design constraints in a contemporary urban site. Twelve finalists were selected by a panel of celebrated architects, designers, and critics, and their sukkahs were constructed in a visionary temporary village in Union Square Park on September 19-20, 2010.

While the project and designs were well-publicized, here is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Sukkah of the Signs.

Also known as The Homeless House, the Sukkah of the Signs was constructed of approximately 300 signs collected from indigent people across the United States. Just as the sukkah commemorates shelter provided during the forty desert-wandering years of Exodus, the design for this sukkah brings attention to the contemporary state of homelessness and wandering, and serves as a vehicle to raise awareness of homelessness in the United States. By purchasing homeless signs from the individuals who made them, the project contributed to the short-term needs of people living on the street by transferring the competition winnings directly to the homeless.

Collecting 300 signs from the street at first seemed a daunting task. In the first weeks of collection, I had to discover where people with signs could be found. Perhaps you’d encounter one person on a highway off-ramp or busy commercial street, but many laws, regulations, and actual physical barriers are put in place to prevent people from panhandling, or “flying signs,” as it is often called.

Eventually, I came to know the city from the perspective of those who used the sign as their livelihood. I understood traffic patterns, shopping patterns, and patterns of density and movement that are intimate to the understanding of people on the street. Collecting five signs during a single outing at one point seemed like a triumph. Towards the end of the month spent collecting the signs, I could collect over fifteen in a few hours.

In addition to discovering the city in a new way, the stories I uncovered were perhaps the most meaningful and memorable components of this process. Humor is often used in the creation of signs to draw attention to the person. Perhaps the most profound sign was that of a woman with no legs, whose sign read, “need a new pair of shoes.”

While most of the process was positive, one encounter demonstrated the harsh reality of living on the streets. My typical method was to simply approach someone and ask if they would be willing to sell their sign. I approached one young couple sitting next to a highway off-ramp. They had a two-year-old child and a baby in a stroller, and with a very large sign they were making a plea to passersby for assistance. I approached the father directly and asked if he would be willing to consider selling his sign. His reaction was one of confusion and agitation, and he asked me how I would dare to ask such a question. I explained that I meant no harm, but he aggressively sent me on my way. I felt so bad after this encounter, especially because I had a new baby about the same age as the one in the stroller, that I decided to return and offer them a donation — no questions asked.

When I came close, the mother and father were in a heavy conversation, and the young father turned to me and quickly said, “I thought you asked me if I would be willing to sell you my son.” I was shocked, not only by the miscommunication, but by the notion that such disgusting queries might not be uncommon in the streets.

One of the signs that was most photographed during the exhibition was one on which was written, “what does a homeless person look like,” and which had a mirror attached to it. Another sign had a cup attached to it, and read “spair change” [sic]. This sign was mounted near the door of the sukkah, and the cup was continually filled with money throughout the day.

Union Square Park, where the two-day exhibition took place, is “home” to much of Manhattan’s homeless population. A surreal moment occurred when two homeless gentlemen with signs began shouting at the large crowd admiring the Sukkah of the Signs. One of them stated that he was a “real” homeless person and not a “fake” like the sukkah they were viewing, and he demanded that contributions be made to his cause. I approached the young man, and he began to tell me the problems he had with the project, not knowing I was the author. I then explained to him the goals of the project and that I was involved it its making, and he became very enthusiastic and darted into the crowd with donation cup in hand, announcing to everyone the concepts behind the project. He remained at the sukkah throughout the day and admitted he did quite well that day.

Project Date: 2010

Project Team: Ronald Rael, Virginia San Fratello, Blane Hammerlund, Maricela Chan, Emily Licht

Fabrication: Karol Popek (Modelsmith International, Inc.)

Project Information: Sukkah City | Sukkah of the Signs News | The Homeless House | Out of 624 submissions from 43 countries, 12 winners were selected by a panel of distinguished architects, designers, and critics.

Acknowledgments: Bryan Allen, Steven Brummond, Maricela Chan, Scott Ewart, Alzbeta Jungrova, Blane Hammerlund, Rockne Hanish, Phil and Amber House, Emily Licht, Colleen Paz, Karol Popek and his crew, Lauren Rosenbloom, Randolph Ruiz, Adam Tilove, Jenny Trumble, and many others who offered advice and spread the word.

Active Matter Matters

In 2010, the National Science Foundation (NSF) recognized the need for novel research collaborations in the area of sustainable environmental design.

For the first time in history, NSF issued a call for proposals with the requirement that architects be members of proposed project teams. The NSF Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) Science in Energy and Environmental Design (SEED) program includes a specific track focused on Engineering Sustainable Buildings. This program funded ten projects through a peer-reviewed competition of over 200 proposals.

A singular, cross-campus collaboration at UC Berkeley, involving architecture (Maria-Paz Gutierrez), civil and environmental engineering (Slawomir Hermanowicz), and bio-engineering (Luke Lee), was among the first round of EFRISEED awards. The Berkeley team proposed the development of a new building technology for water recycling and thermal control based on micro-engineering principles for architecture (see figure 1). NSF awarded $2 million to this project, with Assistant Professor of Architecture Paz Gutierrez serving as principal investigator — the only architect in the nation to lead an EFRISEED project.1

Figure 1: Architecture collaboration diagrams: left, traditional multidisciplinary environmental building systems collaborations; right, emerging interdisciplinary environmental building systems. (Source: BIOMSgroup, UC Berkeley, 2008.)
Figure 1 Enlarge [+]Architecture collaboration diagrams: left, traditional multidisciplinary environmental building systems collaborations; right, emerging interdisciplinary environmental building systems. (Source: BIOMSgroup, UC Berkeley, 2008.)

With this major grant, the BIOMSgroup (Bio Input Onto Material Systems; www.bioms.info), established at UC Berkeley in 2008 by Professor Gutierrez, is poised to develop new models of interdisciplinary research centered on the design of multifunctional material technologies (see figure 2).2 These technologies hold the potential to introduce pioneering methods to capture, redirect, and transfer energy; to resource water supplies; and to process waste based on micro-engineering principles. BIOMSgroup is developing two other projects that center new methods to resource resources. The Self-Activated Building Envelope Regulation System (SABERS) is also supported by NSF and was developed by Gutierrez in collaboration with bio-engineer Luke Lee to establish a new self-regulated membrane for hygrothermal and light transmission control.3 The membrane is designed for emergency deployable housing in tropical regions with the purpose of decreasing energy use for spatial conditioning through controlling ventilation rates. An integrated array of reactive polymers that mechanically adapt to variable light, heat, and humidity indexes enables higher or lower ventilation rates while interacting with an internal dehumidification membrane. As with all BIOMS projects, research is developed from its inception through interdisciplinary collaborations that design building systems from the meter scale to the nanoscale (see figure 3). Another example of BIOMS multiscale research is the Detox Towers project,4 currently in the early phase of development (see figure 4), which explores a new phytoremediation building system for indoor air detoxification and humidity control through active use of microorganisms (algae/lichen).

Figure 2: Schematic overview of Solar Optics-Based Active Panels (SOAP) for Greywater Reuse and Integrated Thermal (GRIT) Building Control Wall System by Gutierrez, Hermanovicz, and Lee at UC Berkeley. Left, application to variable building geometries; center, solar microlenses panel and flow redistribution schematic section perspective; right, detail view of microlens wall and titanium dioxide coated hydrogels. (NSF Award — EFRI-1038279.)
Figure 2 Enlarge [+]Schematic overview of Solar Optics-Based Active Panels (SOAP) for Greywater Reuse and Integrated Thermal (GRIT) Building Control Wall System by Gutierrez, Hermanovicz, and Lee at UC Berkeley. Left, application to variable building geometries; center, solar microlenses panel and flow redistribution schematic section perspective; right, detail view of microlens wall and titanium dioxide coated hydrogels. (NSF Award — EFRI-1038279.)
Figure 3: Multiscale schematic overview of biologically inspired Self-Activated Building Envelope Regulation System (SABERS) interdisciplinary research project, Gutierrez and Lee at UC Berkeley. (NSF Award — CMMI-1030027.)
Figure 3 Enlarge [+]Multiscale schematic overview of biologically inspired Self-Activated Building Envelope Regulation System (SABERS) interdisciplinary research project, Gutierrez and Lee at UC Berkeley. (NSF Award — CMMI-1030027.)
Figure 4: Detox Towers project by BIOMSgroup/Gutierrez at UC Berkeley (finalist, Evolo 2011 Skyscraper International Competition). Left, tower parametric data analysis of convergence of direct solar and particulate matter; top center, adaptive structural system parametric analysis (image developed by John Faichney); top right, urban particulate matter concentrations and nitrous oxide and methane distributions synthesis diagram (image developed by Kylie Han); bottom, detoxification building system from meter to nanometer scale. (BIOMSgroup 2010 team (Kylie Han, John Faichney, Plamena Milusheva, Brian Grieb).)
Figure 4 Enlarge [+]Detox Towers project by BIOMSgroup/Gutierrez at UC Berkeley (finalist, Evolo 2011 Skyscraper International Competition).4 Left, tower parametric data analysis of convergence of direct solar and particulate matter; top center, adaptive structural system parametric analysis (image developed by John Faichney); top right, urban particulate matter concentrations and nitrous oxide and methane distributions synthesis diagram (image developed by Kylie Han); bottom, detoxification building system from meter to nanometer scale. (BIOMSgroup 2010 team (Kylie Han, John Faichney, Plamena Milusheva, Brian Grieb).)

Multifunctional Materials and Microscale Processes

The desire to selectively concentrate energy and recycle water through multifunctional building systems, interdependently across scales, led the team to conceptualize an integrated wall that links greywater regeneration to thermal control, based on micro-optics. This idea was the basis for the design of Solar Optics-Based Active Panels for Greywater Reuse and Integrated Thermal Building Control (or, as it is fondly termed, SOAP for GRIT). From early on, the challenge was to establish new solar-based technologies for light and heat flow transmission/conduction based on micro-optics and micro-fluidics that improve on greywater recycling technologies that use thicker, heavier, and often-pricey mechanical lenses or tubular systems. Through high-precision microlenses that control ultraviolent light exposure,56 the new system can work in any building form without the need for complicated mechanical infrastructures that follow sunlight paths.

Advancing methods of solar greywater recycling,7 particularly for urban, higher-density buildings, creates the opportunity to use greywater to its fullest potential before it leaves the building.8 By incorporating greywater into closed-loop building technologies, SOAP for GRIT can contribute significantly to water conservation through the use of sunlight concentration and transmission control based on micro-optics. The proposed new technology is more sustainable9 and cost-efficient, making it more feasible for real-world architectural applications. Solar-activated panels can significantly reduce space-conditioning costs, which in the average American home account for over 50 percent of energy use.10

Collaborative Scientific Research and Design Pedagogy

Teaching design students about how to use technology to maximize building performance is central to architectural education. Inventive, research-based design is critical to move the field forward while maintaining a necessary focus on the larger historical, social, political, and economic contexts of architecture. Teaching today’s design students thus involves exacting training programs that require rigorous science but that also recognize that technology is not a stand-alone solution to the pressing challenges of environmental design. From implementing biosynthesis of live and inert matter (see figure 5), to producing a self-regulated membrane for humidification in the Atacama Desert in Chile (see figure 6)11, Gutierrez’s architecture students venture into new methods to transfer and process resources.

BIOMSgroup’s projects aim to establish fundamental environmental design research that opens new frontiers to resourcing resources through self-activated matter based on microscale efficiency. Self-activated matter can matter.

Figure 5: First prize, 2008 SHIFT 2x8 Student Competition, AIA Los Angeles Chapter; project developed by Joe Pang, March 2009, for the seminar Material Bio-Intelligibility (Gutierrez, fall 2008).
Figure 5 Enlarge [+]First prize, 2008 SHIFT 2×8 Student Competition, AIA Los Angeles Chapter; project developed by Joe Pang, March 2009, for the seminar Material Bio-Intelligibility (Gutierrez, fall 2008).
Figure 6: First prize, 2009 Blue Award Competition, University of Vienna, Austria. Professor Paz Gutierrez, supervisor; Lan Hu, M.Arch. ‘10; Jungmin An, M.Arch. ‘10. (Gutierrez studio, spring 2009.)
Figure 6 Enlarge [+]First prize, 2009 Blue Award Competition, University of Vienna, Austria. Professor Paz Gutierrez, supervisor; Lan Hu, M.Arch. ‘10; Jungmin An, M.Arch. ‘10. (Gutierrez studio, spring 2009.)10

Support for this research from the National Science Foundation (EFRI-1038279 and CMMI-1030027) and the Hellman Faculty Award is gratefully acknowledged.

Notes

  • 1. http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_images.jsp?cntn_id=117731&org=NSF, accessed April 14, 2011.
  • 2. Maria-Paz Gutierrez, “Silicon + Skin: Biological Processes and Computation,” in Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture, eds. A. Kudless, N. Oxman, and M. Swackhamer (Minneapolis: ACADIA, 2008), 278-85.
  • 3. http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=1030027, accessed April 17, 2011.
  • 4. http://www.evolo.us/architecture/detox-towers/, accessed April 14, 2011.
  • 5. L.P. Lee and R. Szema, “Inspirations from Biological Optics for Advanced Photonic Systems,” Science 310 (2005):1148-50.
  • 6. Jaeyoun Kim, Ki-Hun Jeong, and Luke P. Lee, “Artificial Ommatidia by Self-Aligned Microlenses and Waveguides,” Optics Letters 30 (2005): 5-7.
  • 7. C. Sordo et al., “Solar Photocatalytic Disinfection with Immobilized TiO2 at Pilot-Plant Scale,” Water Science and Technology 61 (2010): 507-512.
  • 8. M. Brennan and R. Patterson, “Economic Analysis of Freywater Recycling,” in Proceedings from 1st International Conference on Onsite Wastewater Treatment and Recycling (Perth, Australia: Environmental Technology Centre, Mundoch University, 2004), 3-9.
  • 9. S.W. Hermanowicz, “Sustainability in Water Resources Management — Changes in Meaning and Perception,” Sustainability Science 3 (2008):181-88.
  • 10. J. Kelso, “2005 Delivered Energy End-Uses for an Average Household, by Region (Million BTU per Household),” in Buildings Energy Databook (Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), 2008), 76.
  • 11. Blue Award 2009, http://www.raumgestaltung.tuwien.ac.at/blue-award/preistraeger/lan-hu-and-jungmin-an/, accessed January 20, 2011.

CED 50th Anniversary Spring Program: Visualizing the Future of Environmental Design

Ananya Roy, Teresa Caldeira, Paul Collier, and Jennifer Wolch
Professor Ananya Roy Ph.D. ’99, Professor Teresa Caldeira Ph.D. ’92, Oxford University Professor of Economics Paul Collier, and Dean Jennifer Wolch after Collier’s lecture about integrating poor countries into global society. (Photo: Adrianne Koteen)

The spring 50th Anniversary celebration shifted its focus to the problems that could not have been foreseen when the College of Environmental Design was founded fifty years ago. Over a four day series of lectures focusing on global dynamics and sustainability challenges, the CED community began planning for the next fifty years.

On Wednesday, February 3, Oxford University Professor of Economics Paul Collier was our first keynote speaker with a talk on his groundbreaking research on “the bottom billion.” A billion people live in countries that have fallen far behind the rest of humanity. He then addressed how, over the coming decades, these societies can develop.

In introducing Collier, City and Regional Planning Professor Ananya Roy said, “These issues of global poverty are of central concern to many of us here at UC Berkeley, and they also constitute an important challenge to the disciplines and professions that make up the College of Environmental Design.”

Dana Cuff; Janine Benyus
Left: Dana Cuff; Right: Janine Benyus, President and Founder of the Biomimicry Institute, discussed the use of natural and biological structures as a guide for design. (Photo: Adrianne Koteen)

So, all that Berkeley has spawned, all the College of Environmental Design continues to generate, is the springboard from which this next era will grow. And, I agree with all four speakers, who in some way or another point to some kind of tipping point, a bottleneck, that represents our moment historically, and why we can move forward. Each one of the speakers had solutions, that kind of optimism, for the next CED to consider. Whether it’s Collier’s notion of credible hope; or nature’s inspiration as ecological performance standards, not just formal standards; a re-centering of our attentive focus, an amazing concept that’s hard to linger on; and, of course, the urban restructuring of a physical nature that’s inherent and intrinsic to the urban restructuring of an economic nature.

— Dana Cuff

Collier established his theme for the day as design for the poorest of the earth. “If not you, who?” Collier asked the audience about helping redesign Haiti. “It’s both vastly important in itself and it’s paradigmatic of this whole class of societies at the bottom.”

President and Founder of the Biomimicry Institute, Janine Benyus, spoke the following evening to an audience of more than five-hundred people. She grounded her speech on her understanding of biomimicry, the science and practice of asking, “How would nature solve this design challenge?”

Interim Chair of the Department of Architecture, Professor Gail Brager, introduced Benyus with the story of Benyus’s journey from nature writer to a leading theorist. “Over the course of ten years, between 1983 and 1993, Janine wrote five books about wildlife and animal behavior. As she learned more and more about how well animals create, manage, and adapt to their environments, a funny thing happened. She became more and more bothered by her observations about how poorly human beings do the same thing. And that angst that she felt turned out to be a very good thing for all of us, because she turned that combination of frustration and curiosity into a new direction of research.”

Benyus’s speech underscored the highly optimistic sense of the series of keynote addresses with her outlook on the possibilities of sustainable, naturally harmonious design. “Interestingly in the next thirty years, eighty percent of the buildings in this country are either going to be remodeled or built new,” she told the capacity crowd at the I House Chevron Auditorium, “So you guys are going to be building larger nests.”

The final keynote speech on Friday, February 5, was entitled, “Designed to Hesitate: Consciousness as Paying Attention” from University of Chicago Emerita Art Professor Barbara Maria Stafford. Stafford pulled from several fields in her fascinating lecture. The speech began a discussion between the mind-science of the humanities and the brain-science of neurobiology, which will hopefully lead to developments in both fields.

City & Regional Planning Professor Michael Dear introduced Stafford to the audience. He quoted his and Stafford’s mutual friend and colleague Hilary Schor, “Barbara Stafford is a visionary and a prophet. The others who follow write the laws. You can make what you will of that, but you can see what she meant when you see Barbara’s presentation.”

Barbara Stafford; Manuel Castells
Left: Barbara Stafford, Professor Emerita of Art History at the University of Chicago, spoke about design and consciousness in her lecture at International House; Center: Professor Manuel Castells, Wallis Annenberg Chair in Communications & Society at USC, spoke about reinventing urbanism in a time of economic crisis. (Photos: Adrianne Koteen)

Stafford’s lecture focused on the difference between “voluntary and involuntary attention.” Building on breakthroughs in the neurosciences, Stafford argued that contemporary technological media — the use of cell phones, for example — erode the part of the brain designed to allow for conscious, voluntary attentiveness. She proposed a “pedagogy of attentiveness,” challenging the education system to stimulate the part of the brain which “hesitates,” and therefore, reasonably solves problems.

On Saturday morning, USC University Professor and Wallis Annenberg Chair in Communications & Society Manuel Castells reopened the discussion on the future of CED. His talk, “Reinventing Urbanism in a Time of Economic Crisis,” engaged the crowd with the legendary academic’s thoughts on what can be learned from the current economic meltdown.

CED Dean Jennifer Wolch introduced Castells. She said, “To say that Manuel is prolific and prodigious does not actually quite capture the situation.” She then listed several decades’ worth of accomplishments before adding, “Professor Castells is the world’s foremost theorist of the power of communication.”

Dana Cuff with Michael Dear and Jennifer Wolch.
Left to right: Professor Dana Cuff (Ph.D. ’82), Director of cityLAB at UCLA, with Professor Michael Dear and CED Dean Jennifer Wolch.

Castells aroused the morning crowd with his thoughts. “So there is a way of reinventing urbanism,” he said. “The ideas are there. The political will of literally millions of people are there. But, it’s also important to study these connections between ideas and practice. And in that sense the College [of Environmental Design] has been and, I hope, will be important. The College can continue to reinvent urbanism … This is the College that has been at the forefront of rethinking the ways we live in cities and beyond for generations.”

Castells’s speech was followed by a panel, “Futures of Environmental Design Education at CED.” The panel featured some of CED’s most engaged junior faculty, recent alumni, and graduate students. Among those who spoke were: Allegra Bukojemsky, Landscape Architect and Leader at Biohabitats, San Francisco; John Cary, Executive Director at Public Architecture, San Francisco; Susanne Cowan, Ph.D. Candidate, Architecture, and Graduate Student Instructor; Bill Eisenstein, Executive Director, Center for Resource Efficient Communities, UC Berkeley; Malo André Hutson, Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning; Ron Rael, Assistant Professor of Architecture; and, Renee Roy, Ph.D. Student, City and Regional Planning.

Speakers at the CED 50th Anniversary Symposium: Visualizing the Future of Environmental Design
Speakers at the CED 50th Anniversary Symposium: Visualizing the Future of Environmental Design. Left to right: Assistant Professor Malo Hutson (MCP ’99), Allegra Bukojemsky (MLA ’02), Bill Eisenstein (Ph.D. ’05), Susanne Cowan, John Cary (M.Arch ’03), Professor Dana Cuff (Ph.D. ’82), Professor Manuel Castells, Assistant Professor Ron Rael, Renee Roy, and CED Dean Jennifer Wolch. (Photo: Adrianne Koteen) Allegra Bukojemsky
Alumna Allegra Bukojemsky (MLA ’02)

The panel showcased CED’s potential to stay at the forefront of research and practice during the next fifty years. “We think of ourselves as problem-solvers,” John Cary explained as his view of CED’s function. “One of the opportunities we have, that Prof. Castells and others have talked about, is to identify problems and propose solutions, and really, I think, that’s something, employed or not, we have the opportunity to do.”

Dana Cuff capped the spring program with a talk on the importance of the optimism established through the series of speeches and panels. She elegantly looked back over the past four days, with the conclusion that CED “may be the best site to build back into the world a role for design.”

Gail Brager, Janine Benyus, and Jennifer Wolch.
Left to right: Interim Chair of the Department of Architecture Gail Brager, President and Founder of the Biomimicry Institute Janine Benyus, and CED Dean Jennifer Wolch. Michael Dear and Mike Tietz
Professors Michael Dear and Mike Tietz

“The city is really our mutual project,” Cuff observed, “and I want to emphasize the word ‘project’ here, where landscape architecture, planning, and architecture are necessary because none of us can do it alone. It’s the commitment here to social, historical, and technological research combined with the force of design that will turn that research and action into new solutions.”

CED 50th Anniversary Gala

The 50th Anniversary Gala on February 6, 2010, launched the 50th Anniversary Student Support Fund. The CED community enjoyed toasting the birthday of the college and a sustainable meal catered by Back to Earth. After dinner, alumni fondly reminisced about their time at CED.
The UC Berkeley Blake Estate
The UC Berkeley Blake Estate in Kensington, CA.
Harrison Fraker, Sam Davis, and Jennifer Wolch
Former CED deans Professor Harrison Fraker and Professor Emeritus Sam Davis ’69 with current CED dean Jennifer Wolch. (Photo: Adrianne Koteen)
Caitlin Brostrom and Nathan Brostrom with Bob Lalanne.
Caitlin Brostrom (’90) and UC VP Nathan Brostrom with CED Gala Committee Co-Chair Bob Lalanne (’78). (Photo: Adrianne Koteen)
Michael Woo discusses his education at CED.
Michael Woo (’75), Dean of the College of Environmental Design at Cal Poly, Pomona, discusses his education at CED.
Cocktails inside the Blake Estate
Cocktails inside the Blake Estate.
Allison Williams with Katherine and John Kriken
Allison Williams (’76) design director of Perkins + Will in San Francisco, with Katherine and John Kriken (’61) a consulting partner at SOM. (Photo: Adrianne Koteen)
Paul Sedway with Doris Lee and Ted Lee
Paul Sedway (’60) with Doris Lee and Ted Lee (’66). (Photo: Adrianne Koteen)

The group then gathered to hear a talk entitled “The Next Economy: Transforming Energy and Infrastructure Investment,” by Bruce Katz, Vice President of the Brookings Institution and Founding Director of its Metropolitan Policy Program. Katz sees “The Great Recession” as an opportunity to reinvent the American economy and reestablish the nation’s place in the world. He spoke about four things that are vital to this goal.

Katz first challenged the audience to visualize an economy where more firms in more sectors trade more goods and services seamlessly with the world, particularly with the rising nations that are rapidly urbanizing and industrializing. Second, he asked everyone to imagine a world where America not only leads the global transition to sustainable growth but uses breakthroughs in technology and practice to spark a production revolution at home, and drive wealth creation and sustainable growth.

The people in this room and the sectors and constituencies you represent are illustrative of the energy and potential of metropolitan America.

— Bruce Katz

He then proposed that the next economy will be rooted in and led by metropolitan America. The real heart of the American economy — 100 metropolitan areas that after decades of growth take up only 12 percent of our land mass — harbor two-thirds of our population and generate 75 percent of our gross domestic product. This is the new economic geography, enveloping city and suburb, exurb and rural town in one seamlessly integrated whole.

Barbara Stafford with Millicent Chase-Lalanne.
University of Chicago Professor Emerita of Art History Barbara Stafford, who lectured about cognition and design imagery during the 50th Anniversary Spring Program, with Millicent Chase-Lalanne.
Rob Steinberg and Alice Erber, Co-chairs of the Gala committee
Rob Steinberg (’77), Steinberg Architects and Alice Erber, Co-chairs of the Gala committee.
Brookings Institution Vice President Bruce Katz
Brookings Institution Vice President Bruce Katz, who regularly advises national, state, regional, and municipal leaders on urban policy reforms. (Photo: Adrianne Koteen)
Zette Emmons, Sadie Super Wurster, and Luli Emmons at the Blake Estate.
Zette Emmons (’73), Sadie Super Wurster (’70) and Luli Emmons (’72) at the Blake Estate.
Michael Dear and George Breslauer.
Professor Michael Dear (left) and UC Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer.

Finally Katz proposed that to build the next economy, the U.S. must connect macro vision to metro reality, the macro to the metro. The U.S. needs a playbook that is uniquely aligned to our entrepreneurial nation, where quality growth and jobs emerge from the DNA of metropolitan America: private firms, research institutions, investors, governments, trade associations, philanthropy, and labor.

Our challenge is to convert the dynamism in this metropolis … into solutions that are pragmatic, far reaching and critical to this moment. We must move as quickly as possible to change the mental map of our nation from a constitutional union of 50 states to an economic network of highly connected, hyperlinked, and seamlessly integrated metropolitan areas.

— Bruce Katz

Katz presented a compelling and inspiring case for the vital importance of supporting CED and the University of California as a whole. Our institutions, he argued, are essential to reestablishing California’s economy and place as a world leader in intellectual and socially beneficial thought. Just a day after presenting the same case to Governor Schwarzenegger, Katz stated that CED is, “a unique, pragmatic, grounded voice in the coming debate over jobs and economy and investment. Let that voice be heard!”

Bruce Katz; Richard and Bonnie Keating; Michael Painter
Left: Bruce Katz; Center: Gala committee members Richard (’68) and Bonnie Keating; Right: Michael Painter (B.S. Landscape Architecture ’56) reminisces about the history of LAEP.

We are grateful to all who made the 50th Anniversary Gala a most memorable evening and who contributed founding gifts to the 50th Anniversary Student Support Fund. We are also grateful to our leadership committee, which helped to make the gala possible.

50th Anniversary Gala Leadership Committee

Co-Chairs
Robert (’78) and Millicent Lalanne
Robert Steinberg (’77) and Alice Erber
Lydia Tan (’83) and John Barton (’83)
Members
Caitlin Lempres-Brostrom (’90) and Nathan Brostrom
Mary Corley (’95) and Jeff Bond Cordelia Hill (’79)
Brad Inman
Fred (’68) and Beth (’66) Karren
Richard (’68) and Bonnie Keating
John (’61) and Katherine Kriken
Janet Moody (’81) and John McMurtry (’83)
Judd Williams (’90) and Anne Bonaparte
Robert (’68) and Sheryl (’67) Wong

CED 50th Anniversary Fall Program: Traditions of Design Activism and Their Consequences

The College of Environmental Design began its fall 50th Anniversary celebration in a packed Wurster Hall auditorium on Friday, September 25, 2009. The fall program, tracing the past fifty years at CED, started with two fascinating lectures: the first from Dell Upton on the histories of the environmental design professions, which was followed by Sir Peter Hall on planning 20th-century cities.
Professor Dell Upton
Dell Upton, Professor of Art History and Chair, Department of Art History, UCLA, spoke about Architectural History and the CED Idea. (Photo: Eric Gillet)

The evening was introduced by CED’s new dean, Jennifer Wolch. She informed the audience of CED’s long history, and defined the College’s function as an institution. “(William) Wurster wrote, ‘Our first duty is toward our students, of course, but we have another and very pressing duty. That is our duty to California, as a fast-growing and increasingly urban state, and we must serve her well in creating beauty, preventing disorder, and making the best use and preservation of her natural resources. Hills, water, land, and forests must all be carefully conserved as the structures of man compete for the space they occupy.’”

Professor of Architecture Paul Groth followed Wolch, introducing Dell Upton, professor and chair of UCLA’s Art History Department. Groth commended Upton for his distinguished career and original research and publishing.

Upton’s lecture, titled “Architectural History and the CED Idea,” traced the role of Architectural History in relation to the conception of CED. Upton expounded on Wurster’s idea of CED by saying, “Part of the insider/outsider discourse in architecture is that architectural education should be both integrative and disruptive.”

Sir Peter Hall; Clare Cooper Marcus and panel of other CED professors emeriti.
Left: Sir Peter Hall. (Photo: Eric Gillet); Right: CED Professor Emerita of Architecture and Landscape Architecture Clare Cooper Marcus (MCP ’65) and a panel of other CED professors emeriti spoke about the history and traditions of Design Activism.
Jennifer Wolch, Richard Bender, Sam Davis, George Breslauer, and Harrison Fraker
CED Dean Jennifer Wolch, Prof. Emer. and Dean Richard Bender, Prof. Emer. and Dean Sam Davis (’69), Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer, and Professor and Dean Harrison Fraker at the presentation of the Berkeley Citation to Professor Sam Davis. (Photos: Eric Gillet)

Professor Emeritus of City & Regional Planning Mike Tietz brought Sir Peter Hall to the stage. He said, “Peter is probably the preeminent scholar and historian of planning and urbanism perhaps in the world today.”

Sir Peter Hall, Professor Emeritus of City and Regional Planning who currently teaches at University College, London, continued the enlightening retrospective on CED’s past fifty years with his talk, “Planning Past and Future: Early 21st Century Reflections.”

“I would like to commemorate the college as an example of what a college truly is and should be,” Hall told the crowd, “and that is an assemblage of scholars pursuing their individual lines of research, but in a form of deep exchange of ideas and knowledge. That is what CED was founded to do fifty years ago and so triumphantly continues to do today.”

In a special ceremony, UC Berkeley Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer awarded Professor Emeritus of Architecture Sam Davis with The Berkeley Citation, Berkeley’s highest honor to its faculty. The honor is given for distinguished or extraordinary service to the University. The Berkeley Citation remains confidential prior to being awarded, which made for a touching scene as Davis was called to the stage. Breslauer read some of the nomination letters received for Davis. Professor of Architecture Mary Comerio wrote, “His work on housing the homeless demonstrates the importance of social responsibility and ethical professional practice as an example for our college and university.”

The evening concluded with a lovely reception outside in the Wurster Hall Courtyard.

On Saturday, the celebration continued with two engaging panel discussions. Russ Ellis led the first panel of emeriti professors, including Clare Cooper Marcus, Stanley Saitowitz, and Michael Teitz, in a conversation about the historical and philosophical roots of CED’s approach to design and planning education. Harrison Fraker then led a panel of some of our most accomplished alumni, including Ray Kappe, Carol Galante, and Mario Schjetnan, in a discussion of the impacts of CED on the professions.

I think the abiding sense I have at the end of this morning is how we reconcile the CED vision, what this college was founded for 50 years ago, and what it continues to practice, with the changes that occur in the outside world, which have been, as we’ve seen in various presentations, so profound over half a century.

— Sir Peter Hall

The Professors Emeriti Panel, “History and Traditions of Design Activism,” focused on the development of CED as an academic institution and a place for creative endeavor. Professor Emerita Marcus succinctly put it near the end of the panel, “We should be getting people out of Wurster Hall. As teachers, I think we need to get out of this building — sorry to those who currently teach in this building, as I did for most of my life — and get out into the real environment … and teach something different. Be creative in how we teach.”

The second panel, featuring some of our most gifted alumni out in the environmental design fields, was titled “Legacies of Environmental Design Education at CED.” Carol Galante, of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Ray Kappe, founder of the Southern California Institute of Architecture; and Mario Schjetnan, founder of Grupo de Diseño Urbano, discussed how their time at the CED helped them develop the ideas and impulses that led to their success.

“We had one studio in which landscape, planning, and architecture came together to do a project — A Planning Study of Berkeley,” Ray Kappe spoke of his time at Berkeley. “And that was one of my best experiences here. This one (project) was really very, very important to me.”

Sir Peter Hall returned to give the Concluding Remarks for the fall program. He said he had a hard time summing up an incredibly rich set of discussions. He did so marvelously, though, with some final reflections about understanding how differently things were done fifty years ago as compared with today.

“What are we up to in CED?” Hall asked the audience. “What should we be up to? All that I’ve heard this morning tells me, and I’m sure it’s told you, that the essence of what CED is for, is to really understand the relationship between people, nature, and buildings.”

“I think the abiding sense I have at the end of this morning,” Sir Peter Hall said, “is how we reconcile the CED vision, what this college was founded for 50 years ago, and what it continues to practice, with the changes that occur in the outside world, which have been, as we’ve seen in various presentations, so profound over half a century.”

Jennifer Wolch with Shelley and Ray Kappe; The Paraduxx Winery Expedition Tour
Left: CED Dean Jennifer Wolch discusses midcentury modern design with Shelley and Ray Kappe (’51) after the Greenwood Common 50th Anniversary Expedition tour. (Photo: Eric Gillet)
Aerial view of Salt Flats expedition tour-goers from a kite camera
An aerial view of Prof. Cris Benton and Salt Flats 50th Anniversary Expedition tour-goers from a kite camera. (Photo: Cris Benton)

On Sunday, the celebration continued beyond Wurster Hall with expeditions to locations around the East Bay and Napa Valley. Alumni and faculty led tours of their projects that focused on innovative design, affordable housing, environmental planning, historic preservation and other aspects of sustainability.

The Napa tours included visiting the Parduxx Winery, built by Gould Evans | Baum Thornley, Inc. The tour was led by the firm’s principal, Douglas Thornley, and showcased the traditional agricultural building complex plan with a unique ten-sided fermentation facility, that was inspired by the form of traditional round barns.

The other Napa tour visited Opus One Winery, built by Johnson Fain. Principal Scott Johnson led the group through the 70,000 square foot, low-profile structure, exploring the dual role of iconic structure and functioning winery. Johnson highlighted the role of the architecture as an expression of the wine made there.

Among the several engaging East Bay tours was the visit to William Wurster’s Greenwood Common. The tour was led by Waverly Lowell, author of Living Modern: A Biography of Greenwood Common. Participants on this tour learned the history of how the buildings and landscape came to be and toured three of the exceptional houses and gardens.

Another of the other fascinating tours highlighting CED’s influence on East Bay architecture was Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland. This tour was led by the building’s designer, Craig W. Hartman, who is a partner at Skidmore, Owens, and Merrill. With a building form based on an inner wooden vessel contained within a veil of glass, the tour showed, the design conveys an inclusive statement of welcome and openness as the community’s symbolic soul.

The other East Bay tours included a trip to Strawberry Creek Park in Berkeley, which was led by Professor Matt Kondolf and Jane Wardani, with commentary from Carole Schemmerling and Roger Leventhal. Members of the CED community also took a boat trip, led by Caltrans Engineer Brian Maroney, to the Bay Bridge and Treasure Island.

A final group visited the Salt Flats in the South Bay. CED Professor and kite photographer Cris Benton, along with microbiologist Wayne Lanier, led a three-mile hike to their favorite spot at the South Bay salt ponds, an unassuming drainage ditch they have dubbed “The Weep.” At the Weep, Cris got out his kite and showed how he captures surprisingly beautiful images of the landscape using the wind and a homemade remote for his camera. Meanwhile, Wayne set up his field microscopes to inspect the amazingly diverse creatures that create the colors and textures we see in Cris’ aerial photos.

Sir Peter Hall, Jennifer Wolch, Dell Upton, Russ Ellis, Carol Galante, Michael Teitz, Clare Cooper Marcus, Harrison Fraker, Mario Schjetnan, Richard Bender, and Ray Kappe
Left to right: Sir Peter Hall, CED Dean Jennifer Wolch, Professor Dell Upton, Vice Chan. Russ Ellis, Carol Galante (MCP ’78), Prof. Emer. Michael Teitz, Prof. Emer. Clare Cooper Marcus (MCP ’65), Prof. Harrison Fraker, Mario Schjetnan (MLA ’70), Prof. Emer. Richard Bender, and Ray Kappe (’51). (Photo: Eric Gillet)

The celebration concluded on Sunday night with a reception at The David Brower Center in Downtown Berkeley. The building’s competition-winning design builds upon the inherent richness in the combination of affordable housing, environmental education, and a venue for the intersection of art and ecology. This reception and talk was hosted by Daniel Solomon, Principal at WRT | Solomon E.T.C. Architecture & Urban Design, the firm behind the Brower Center.

From September 25–December 22, 2009, an exhibit curated by Professor Raymond Lifchez with the assistance of Carrie McDade entitled, Environmental Design/A New Modernism: 50th Anniversary of the College of Environmental Design, 1959-2009 graced the Volkmann Reading Room in the Environmental Design Library. The exhibit focuses on seminal moments from 1959 to 2009 in the evolution of the CED founders’ vision, whereby teaching, research, and practice were informed by the social and natural sciences. In recent decades, this vision has come to include the computer sciences. It features original drawings, photographs, documents, books, and artifacts drawn from the Environmental Design Archives, the Environmental Design Library, the Bancroft Library, the University Archives, IURD and CEDR, and private collections.

Simulating Urban Place: The Importance of Experience

The College of Environmental Design was founded in the belief that the design of buildings, neighborhoods, landscapes and regions should be genuinely concerned with the conditions of all humans and be relatively free from doctrine of any persuasion.

It was possible for such a humanistic tradition to emerge because those who founded the college held a commitment to an integrated view of education and had a high tolerance for each other’s approaches. With the exception of Catherine Bauer, the founding members were raised locally and rooted in the Bay Area experience: William Wurster had his roots in Stockton , T. J. Kent and Fran Violich grew up in San Francisco, Vernon DeMars in Oakland and Garrett Eckbo in Alameda; after an exposure to East Coast schools all embraced modern architecture’s social agenda. They practiced regionally; several of them worked prominently in the field of low-income housing, others, as founders of Telesis in 1939 and motivated by an appreciation for the Bay Area’s exceptional beauty, reacted against the mindless urban development that accelerated in the decades after WWII. As mentors they pointed out that no matter the size of an individual designer’s contribution, it was possible to act intelligently with an eye on the larger environmental, social and political context.

In the 1960s, the college attracted a large number of faculty members from further afield, especially in the field of urban planning and design. Donald Appleyard, who came from MIT together with Roger Montgomery, who came from Washington University in Saint Louis, both started to offer an interdisciplinary urban design curriculum to graduate students from all three departments.

Urban design as a tie between the three departments became the college’s hallmark and over the last four decades a group of urban designers with roots in design practice shared an interest in research and teaching that led to a normative stance, emphasizing more the prescriptive, “what should be,” and less the descriptive, reflective mode, emphasizing the “what is.” The colleagues I am thinking of include Don Logan, Dan Solomon, Christopher Alexander, Clare Cooper Marcus, and Sam Davis, who taught at Berkeley when I joined in 1976. Allan Jacobs came to Berkeley at about the same time. During Richard Bender’s time as CED Dean, Donlyn Lyndon, Randy Hester, Michael Southworth, Elizabeth Deakin and Linda Jewell joined; Nezar Alsayyad came to the faculty after he completed his PhD with Spiro Kostov; René Davids and Renée Chow, Louise Mozingo and Walter Hood joined during Roger Montgomery’s tenure as Dean. Mark Anderson, Elizabeth MacDonald, Nicholas de Monchaux, Paz Gutierez, Karl Kuhlmann and Ron Rael are the most recent members of the faculty with a dedication to urban design.

A comparison of urban vitality in Los Angeles, Shanghai and Mumbai
Figure 1 Enlarge [+]Cities in the Laboratory, a conceptual view: A comparison of urban vitality in Los Angeles, Shanghai and Mumbai, measured here per unit of surface area, Venice Biennale, 2006.

Academic groups need jolters. Peter Hall jolted the group saying that increasingly the form of urban regions would need to be studied; Manuel Castells pointed the group towards a major shift in how society uses space. The information age had changed how people interact socially at all levels. Two decades earlier Mel Webber jolted the members of the group with his thesis that local place was growing less important as society was becoming more and more placeless. The polemics of the discussion made students in the simulation laboratory work on a film Webberville versus Applelandia. In one community, the curtains are drawn to keep out the glare as residents communicate with their peers in faraway places; in the other community, the residents erect barricades in the streets to protect against traffic, environmental degradation and for greater social justice.

Not unique to Berkeley, there still exists a healthy tension between those who view material space relative to socioeconomic dimensions and those who view the experience of place as an inspiration for design. It is therefore important to reflect on the power of direct experience, and the power of abstractions as something that education can bridge. If more bridges between the two modes of thinking, planning and design can be made, the college can confidently face the next 50 years.

The proposed Citti di Porta Nova, Milan
Figure 2 Enlarge [+]Cities in the Laboratory, a perceptual view: The proposed Citti di Porta Nova, Milan. (Bosselmann/Urban Simulation Laboratory, Polimi).

The Environmental Simulation Laboratory, founded in 1972 by Appleyard, provides such a bridge. Ahead of its time, it was built on the premise that it is possible to bring parts of the city into a laboratory in order to experiment with changes to urban form. Throughout history and across disciplines simulations have been used to forecast conditions that might become reality. The applications of simulations are broad and have grown in engineering, design and planning as well as navigational training, medicine and education. Fundamentally, two types of simulations are possible: existing and future urban conditions can be explained as concepts or as experiences. When computational techniques became available in the 1970s, conceptual simulations received a major boost. A decade later, with the advent of digital image processing, the sensory or perceptional forms of simulations advanced. By now, animations, virtual walks or drives through photorealistic settings have become commonplace. But with such advancements it is important to remember that simulations remain abstractions of reality. What is selected from reality, and what is left out, can significantly influence the outcome of simulations, thus the future form of cities.

Milan skyline
Figure 3 Enlarge [+]View from the roof of the Duomo in Milan towards the Alps. The cupola of the Galleria is in the front to the left.
Milan skyline
Figure 4 Enlarge [+]Understanding changes to Milan’s traditionally horizontal skyline. (Bosselmann/Urban Simulation Laboratory, Polimi).

Will the simulated world behave in very much the same manner as the real world? The answer to this question is important for urban designers, who use simulations to explore the implications of policy on the form of cities. If response equivalence between simulated and real world experiences cannot be guaranteed, simulations would have no credibility, could be misleading and should not be used in decision making processes. Knowledge about response equivalence falls into the realm of psychology. Kenneth Craik, one of the pioneers in the field of environmental psychology, collaborated with Appleyard in the early years to measure people’s responses to simulated scenes and compare them to responses after an experience of the real world. Answers to the equivalence question involved a large scale validation project sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Residents and nonresidents were randomly selected to tour a suburban environment complete with shopping centers and office parks, followed by the screening of a virtual drive through the same area. Some subjects saw one and not the other, some saw both in the sequence described or vice versa. The experiment concluded that simulations can be surrogates of a real world experience. This meant, ideally, that the simulations should not be presented in static form, but as dynamic animations, produced in a manner that comes close to human experience, moving through space and time. The experiment also acknowledged that subjects who were unfamiliar with the setting reported close to equivalent experiences after the real world tour and after watching a tour of a virtual, simulated world, or vice versa. But for subjects familiar with the real setting, the equivalence of the two experiences was not as strong. For them the real world setting had social meaning that could not readily be simulated. Thus the validation experiment touched upon findings made about the same time, first in geography and later in the field of psychology, claiming that place in cities, neighborhoods and landscapes takes on meaning based upon people’s memory, attachment and dependencies.

tower
Figure 5 Enlarge [+]Left: Judging the correct size of buildings: to see the tower in true dimensions the human eyes create nine distinct perspectives (Bosselmann/Urban Simulation Laboratory, Polimi); Right: Alternatively, additional references are needed to judge the dimensions of the tower. (Bosselmann/Urban Simulation Laboratory, Polimi).
3D GIS model
Figure 6 Enlarge [+]The 3D GIS model that made the Milan simulations possible. (Bosselmann/Urban Simulation Laboratory, Polimi).

The validation project also confirmed a number of earlier theories, first J.J. Gibson’s ecological theory that reminds us of perception’s dynamic process, which operates under constantly changing conditions and frequently in motion over time. As well as Egon Brunswik’s probabilistic theory: The observer builds up a repertoire of probabilities that provides likely conclusions by combining trustworthy clues to give an educated guess about the true nature of a situation or place.

Admittedly, for the everyday user of simulations, perceptional theories would be of limited use, if it were not for the fact that simulations are produced in a highly politicized milieu. Change in cities will always be associated with controversy. Especially when large projects are considered, proponents and opponents rival for public attention, appeal to decision makers and will treat information about change selectively, emphasizing its benefits or detriments depending on who is preparing the case. For an outsider, the credibility gap appears obvious and the difference in the portrayal of the real and the imagined can at times be comical, but for the actors involved the matter is deadly serious, because much can be at stake. Therefore, anybody interested in reducing the credibility gap for the benefit of a more open debate would call for a special commitment among those who produce simulations. Simulations should be representative of the changes that a new project will impose on the conditions that exist and on possible future conditions — ideally, they should consider cumulative change — without exaggerating or diminishing the impacts of change. The modeling should be open to accuracy tests. Realistically, such work could not be expected from proponents or from opponents, but could only be performed by individuals outside the controversy, for example, at research universities.

San Francisco skyline showing potential development
Figure 7 Enlarge [+]San Francisco skyline (Bosselmann/Urban Explorer) with 2004/5 entitlements and potential development under current planning controls; existing skyline, 2008, plus the proposed Transit Tower (Bosselmann/Yon Te Kim).

Modeled after the Berkeley lab, several such laboratories have emerged. For example, in the 1990s the Berkeley laboratory became the model for laboratories at Keio and at Waseda Universities in Tokyo. Here the rationale was developed for exemption from national planning law and introduction of special area planning controls for several Tokyo neighborhoods, including the famous Ginza district; earlier in the 1980s, a new laboratory in New York shaped regulations for Times Square, Television City, the Upper East Side and for West Way. The latest of this type of simulation laboratories was built in 2007 at the Milan Polytechnic with the purpose of examining the insertion of large scale projects into the still largely horizontal cityscape. In these laboratories, simulations are made to support the process of reasoning; modeling turns an abstract idea and transforms it towards the realm of the concrete. Not yet reality, but through simulations urban form and the associated conditions become more understandable. Models allow for greater clarity, and simulations are useful for explaining urban conditions to those who may not otherwise understand the implications of decision-making, such as politicians, community representatives, and the news media — thus the public at large. Simulations alone cannot claim to deliver judgment about good performance, fit or compatibility; the evaluators will make such judgments, but simulations make possible an open, public discussion among evaluators about the magnitude, pace and nature of change, its perceived degree of faithfulness to a recognized tradition — authenticity — or, a conscious break with tradition — a new beginning.

New York City, Times Square, 1985
Figure 8 Enlarge [+]New York City, Times Square, 1985: Simulating allowable building heights and signage control.

With the advent of Geographic Information Systems, perceptual simulation can be combined with spatially referenced data. For example, the attempt by the San Francisco business community to find sufficient land to accommodate 10 million square feet of additional office space is such an abstraction. The Berkeley Simulation Laboratory has a 30-year tradition to show whether and how that much floor space will fit into what is already there. Many contemporary examples for simulation applications come to mind. In California, as population grows, we need to simulate a type of community that is designed to reduce green house gasses consistent with Senate Bill 375.

San Francisco Bay Area, the Randstad in Holland, Hong Kong, and Milan
Figure 9 Clockwise from top left: Simulating population density: four metropolitan areas with seven million inhabitants, San Francisco Bay Area, the Randstad in Holland, Hong Kong, and Milan.

Simulation is a bridge between concept and experience. At the CED we are in the process of opening a new bridge to visualize spatial data at the metropolitan scale. We are calling this new type of laboratory a Global Metropolitan Observatory. It originated out of a strategic initiative proposed to the Chancellor when the faculty were asked to brainstorm about the contribution Berkeley could make to solving the most urgent problems of the new millennium. Our response was a study center with the focus on sustainable metropolitan form. The new observatory will continue Berkeley’s tradition. It speaks to the strength of an educational tradition, when it is carried on by others, when it evolves and when it resonates in professional cultures different from those places where it originated.

The Ginza District under examination at the Tokyo Simulation Laboratory
Figure 10 Enlarge [+]The Ginza District under examination at the Tokyo Simulation Laboratory (Academy Hills, Roppongi).

The College of Environmental Design in Wurster Hall

I wanted it to look like a ruin that no regent would like.… It’s absolutey unfinished, uncouth, and brilliantly strong.… The Ark, for instance, is a ripe building; it has been lived in; it’s been used; it’s been beaten up.… It’s arrived. Our building will take twenty years to arrive.

— William Wilson Wurster, 1964 Oral History in the Bancroft Library

This text was based on my interviews with Vernon DeMars, Joe Esherick, Donald Olsen, Clark Kerr, and others associated with the creation of the building for the College of Environmental Design.

This history was written in 1984 when the twenty years Wurster had given the building to arrive had passed, leaving it lived in, used, and beaten up. Somewhat later it was found seismically unsafe, a verdict that was not the fault of the architects or builders who had complied with the codes, but because changing standards had made the codes themselves inadequate. The seismic retrofit that followed took three years and altered the interior, mainly by increasing the shear walls on the ground floor and enabling a welcome remodeling of the library.

So the building had a second coming. But my task here is not to assess its re-arrival. The intention of this article is the same now as it was originally: to answer the basic questions about the origins of the college and how it was named and to describe the programming and the design process of the building. These issues were important because this was not just another college on the UC Berkeley campus; it was the world’s first educational institution to be dedicated to the study of environmental design.

The motivation for the college evolved during the 1930s and the early 1940s. This tumultuous period brought together professionals in the design and planning fields in unaccustomed ways to consider strategies, which had previously appeared to have no future, for a future with an apparently limitless horizon. One example of this kind of collaboration was the Farm Security Administration, a Depression-born federal agency with a regional office in San Francisco where young architects, landscape architects, and planners designed new communities for California’s migrant farm workers. Vernon DeMars was among the architects; he later participated in the design of Wurster Hall.

Telesis “Space for Living” exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Art, 1940
Figure 1 Enlarge [+]Telesis “Space for Living” exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Art, 1940, Telesis Reference File, EDA, Berkeley.

In the fall of 1939, a group of San Francisco architects, landscape architects, and city planners formed a new organization called Telesis. According to Fran Violich, a founding member who later had the first joint appointments in the faculty of Landscape Architecture and City and Regional Planning in the College of Environmental Design, Telesis members believed in “the use of a comprehensive, planned approach to environmental development, the application of social criteria to solve social problems, and team efforts of all professions that have a bearing on the total environment.”

As the organization expanded to include lawyers, artists, photographers, civic leaders, and other concerned citizens, it inspired a similar organization in Los Angeles with the same name. Through the fourteen years of the formal existence of Telesis the membership actively applied its philosophy to planning and development issues confronting the metropolitan area around the San Francisco Bay. Following World War II, the group’s members were absorbed into the mainstream of professional practice. Some of them joined University of California faculties.

If the concept of environmental design took shape collectively over a period of time, the idea of a college dedicated to the concept came, mainly, from William Wurster. By his own account, he had it in mind before coming to Berkeley as Dean of the School of Architecture in 1950. The idea of having one administrative entity for professional fields devoted to the physical environment made good sense to Wurster. His professional and personal life had been laced with close associations with landscape architects and city planners as well as members of his own profession of architecture. Although Wurster had not been active in Telesis, he took what its members did seriously. He also began to take seriously Catherine Bauer, a nationally known housing expert, who was a visiting lecturer in the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare. In 1940 they were married and later went to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Bill spent 1942–1943 as a fellow of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture. While there he persuaded the members of the architecture faculty and the institute’s administration to recognize the School’s city planning division as a full-fledged, co-equal department. The new entity was named the School of Architecture and Planning.

Meanwhile, back in Berkeley, studies focused on establishing a department of city planning in the 1930s and 1940s finally bore fruit in the postwar decade. Established in 1948 with T. J. Kent, Jr. as chairman, the department was housed in one of the campus … temporary wartime buildings. A year later, when Warren Perry resigned as Dean of the School of Architecture, Wurster succeeded him. Kent and Wurster were good friends and shared an interest in the interrelationship of their respective fields. Their collaboration was crucial to the founding of the College of Environmental Design.

No written record of Wurster’s first ideas for the college exists. His statement describing the college, which appeared in the booklet announcing the programs for the fall and spring semesters of 1960–1961, was written more than a decade after he became dean of what would be the college’s largest department:

Each of these departments (City and Regional Planning, Landscape Architecture, and Architecture) developed independently (on the Berkeley campus.) But all three of them, with their many distinguished graduates now scattered all over the world, have played important roles in one of the great revolutions of our time: the effort to integrate practical needs with science, technology, and art in the design and organization of the man-made environment, an international movement to which California has made important contributions in all three realms.… As the responsibilities in each professional field have broadened and deepened, the need for mutual contact and understanding has become more apparent.

Although the concept of the college implied an interdisciplinary structure, the intention was not to train an all-purpose professional who would address the movement as a whole. Rather the task was to strengthen the departments and the liaisons between them through joint appointments and interdisciplinary courses. The students would then have the opportunity to mix and match studies in their chosen areas while being part of the whole picture in the natural way that physical proximity implied.

Early Schema for Wurster Hall, 1959; “Architecture College Grows Fast” from the UC Berkeley student newspaper The Daily Californian, May 10, 1957
Figure 2 Enlarge [+]Left: Early Schema for Wurster Hall, 1959, Donald Olsen Collection (2003-1), EDA, Berkeley; Right: “Architecture College Grows Fast” from the UC Berkeley student newspaper The Daily Californian, May 10, 1957.

It took a while for this picture to be composed. Jack Kent recalled that after Bill and Catherine returned to Berkeley in 1950, where she was a lecturer in the Department of City and Regional Planning, a luncheon group formed to discuss issues of the built environment. The group met once a week and also went on field trips led by members from the different fields. Kent observed that, “We got together in the best of all possible ways because no one was pushing a special point of view.”

Some members of this informal group also belonged to the City and Regional Planning department’s Faculty Group, which was responsible for governing the department during its formative years.

Soon after assuming his academic duties in Berkeley, Wurster wrote to President Gordon Sproul suggesting that the departments of Architecture, City and Regional Planning, and Landscape Architecture be linked together. Sproul responded by writing to Jack Kent, “… wondering if we really wanted to do this thing since everything was going so well.” Kent then suggested forming a committee composed of members of the three departments and called by the acronym ACPLA. The committee met regularly for four years, and although there was considerable interest in grouping the departments in a new college, no one took responsibility for formulating a definite proposal.

When Kent returned from his first sabbatical in 1955 and found the issue of the college unchanged, he assembled background reports from the different departments and created a proposal. He also drafted legislation for the departments and the academic senate to consider. During his chairmanship of the ACPLA in 1956–57, the committee produced a proposal to establish a College of Environmental Design, which was submitted to the chancellor’s review committee in April 1957. The proposal had reports from the three departments that covered the histories of the fields and the work of the university in them and evaluated the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed college.

Architecture was the only department that noted no disadvantage serious enough to mention in the report. It was not only the oldest department, having been in existence since 1906 and designated a college in 1957, but also had by far the largest number of students and faculty. During his deanship Wurster had joined the undergraduate program to the graduate School of Architecture to create a college. To combine the departments of City and Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture with Architecture in some mutually acceptable manner was a reasonable strategy for gaining university recognition for the design professions as a whole. Still, the other departments were wary of having their own distinctive fields subordinated to the older and larger field of architecture.

All three departments had ties to other disciplines in the university. Landscape Architecture, housed in Agriculture, was also related to Forestry and Conservation. City Planning had two main branches, physical planning and public administration. The social science fields were also related. Since the academic backgrounds of more than half of the eight faculty members were unrelated to design fields, some of them were concerned that their joining the design fields would be taken as a move away from their fields of interest.

The issue of the new college’s name was not the simple proposition that we might suppose. While the report from Architecture did not state the name, the reports from the other departments made a point of mentioning it. Landscape Architecture proposed that a name be chosen, “which is indicative of the common goal and function of the three departments rather than of the departments themselves.” The City and Regional Planning department members expressed the hope that the new building would be designated the Environmental Design building from the outset and not be named for the department that happened to have the largest faculty and student body. “We are aware that this issue may not be considered by some to be a matter of major importance, but we think it essential that the equal status of the three professional fields be clearly expressed.”

In fact, Jack Kent had proposed the name for the college because the term, “environmental design” had often been used by the Telesis group and was considered appropriate by its former members. However, it had no historically accrued values for the majority. Within the College of Architecture, the term provoked hoots and snickers. It sparked such indignation among professionals in the outside world that Wurster felt constrained to set up what he called a “professional committee” to meet with him and the faculty about matters of mutual concern. When it turned out that what the committee considered to be of mutual concern was mainly the organization of the new college, Wurster disbanded the committee. Even so, at a confrontational meeting at the Clarement Hotel in Berkeley, members of the profession voiced their disapproval of the name along with other aspects of the proposed college.

In the beginning, Wurster and his wife, Catherine, had not favored the name because they thought it was pretentious. But when the uproar failed to produce another name, “environmental design” stood by default.

This hurdle out of the way, the legislation worked its way through the various committees in 1956–57 and was approved by the Academic Senate in 1959. The issue of the name surfaced for the last time with proposals for the new building. A faculty memo from Wurster dated October 12, 1961 was headed, “Name, if any, for the Environment Design Building.” In it, Wurster discussed the names of two possibilities, John Galen Howard and Bernard Maybeck — both architects — had been suggested to him. No names relating to the other disciplines were mentioned. The memo closed with the statement, “This action should never be a hasty one, and it is proposed to let the matter go as it is with no man’s name, but these words might start the discussion.” In hindsight, Wurster’s failure to muster another name for the new building seems prophetic since when he retired, in 1963, the building was named for himself and Catherine.

Early Massing Drawing of Wurster Hall; Proposed Layout of Wurster Hall
Figure 3 Enlarge [+]Left: Early Massing Drawing of Wurster Hall, Joseph Esherick/EHDD Collection (1974-1), EDA, Berkeley; Right: Proposed Layout of Wurster Hall, CED Records, EDA, Berkeley.

To design an educational environment for professions whose work was designing the physical environment was not a typical architectural challenge. Wurster approached it with a zeal that came from not only from the opportunity at hand, but also from the memory of a project that he had orchestrated at MIT during his deanship there. Lawrence Anderson and Vernon DeMars, a visiting professor, directed a student research project that led to a faculty housing project sponsored by the New England Life Insurance Company. When the university and the company asked Wurster to advise them on the selection of architects for the project, he told them that he had hired the brightest and most capable architects for his faculty at MIT.

As a result, Vernon DeMars, Robert Kennedy, Carl Koch, Ralph Rapson, and William Brown, Jr. were hired to design the building, a twelve-story apartment building for MIT faculty, now known as 100 Memorial Drive.

Wurster then left his brightest and best alone to create the design. However, as DeMars recalled, since no one was put in charge, no one took the lead for fear of being judged a prima donna. After some thundering on Wurster’s part the team got to work, but consensus came slowly. Finally, Rapson was delegated to draw up the final scheme. The result was a widely published building design that won several awards. The halting beginnings were forgotten, and Wurster was convinced that a team of un-like-minded architects could produce a brilliant design.

In the late 1950s, when the question of selecting architects for the new college building on the Berkeley campus arose, DeMars had become chairman of the architecture faculty and had opened an office with Donald Reay in Berkeley. They had joined Donald Hardison in a competition for the new student union complex, which they won.

DeMars was Wurster’s first choice for the team of architects being assembled to design the College of Environmental Design. Two other strong candidates on the faculty were Donald Olsen and Joseph Esherick. From Wurster’s point of view the important thing was that the three candidates had totally different points of view. A distrust of unanimity led him to constantly stress variety in the faculty. He said he wanted, “strong people, each with a different slant.… The school should present a rough place with many cracks.” DeMars conjectured that he and Esherick were chosen for their different degrees of humanistic leanings while Olsen represented a formalist perspective that would correct any overly romantic tendencies.

In the beginning, Donald Hardison was on the team because, as Esherick put it, “Bill didn’t think that any of us could do the construction drawings.”

According to Clark Kerr, UC Berkeley’s first chancellor who became president of the entire university in 1958, the administration was reluctant to approve the appointment of three faculty members for the design of this major building. Design by committee had inherent difficulties in achieving consensus. These difficulties might be compounded because the architects would not have the useful immunity to inside pressures that outsiders enjoyed. But Wurster countered, successfully, that not hiring the faculty team would be a vote of no confidence in the level of skills in the department at the very moment when they could be used most appropriately. Besides, this was a unique opportunity.

Wood Structure with lean-to roof, Inverness, CA, 1972
Figure 4 Wood Structure with lean-to roof, Inverness, CA, 1972, Courtesy of Sim Van der Ryn.

Kerr appointed a faculty building committee to advise the architects on departmental needs. Members of the committee were: Francis Violich from City and Regional Planning, George Simonds from Architecture, H. L. Vaughan and Robert Tetlow from Landscape Architecture, Lucretia Nelson from Decorative Arts, and Helen Worden, who represented the university library system. Louis Demonte, the campus architect, served as the liaison between the faculty committee, the team of architects, and Elmo Morgan, the university vice president who was the official client for the building. Serving as both an administrator and an architect, DeMonte ran what he described as a three-ring circus.

The 137,972 square feet allocated for the building was apportioned to the departments according to the needs stated in their programs, which were the result of intense bargaining within the departments and among the faculty representatives. Location issues had to be resolved within the context of decisions about the site of the building and its place in the overall campus planning process. In the 1956 Long Range Development Plan, major new campus developments such as the student center, the art museum, and dormitory complexes were located on the south side of the campus where few large or important buildings were located and more open space existed than on the north side. The consolidation of campus precincts devoted to related disciplines was a priority. Music, art, and anthropology were located in the southeast corner of the campus where a nearby site was under consideration for the art museum. During his participation in the Campus Planning Committee, Wurster had come to believe that the new college would benefit from proximity to the humanistic disciplines of anthropology, art, and music. More importantly, a site large enough for the new building would exist if College Avenue, which ran through the campus, was closed and some miscellaneous structures and tennis courts were removed. By the time the architects were selected, the south site had been determined.

To preserve the open space that gave the campus its park-like setting, the Long Range Development Plan also stated that buildings should cover only twenty-five per cent of the land. Since this decision made tall buildings or tower elements inevitable, the skyline and the location of these elements became important issues. A large building that would mark a gateway to the newly important southeast campus precinct was a logical decision.

Wurster favored a tower element for the new building. Another important feature that he and others favored was a courtyard. A most cherished feature of the “Ark” (as the old Architecture building was called) was the brick-paved court where social and ceremonial events took place. The new building’s court was meant to express continuity with the old setting, to be the symbolic heart of the new college building.

The team of architects and the faculty building committee went to work in the fall of 1958. Those who participated recalled that the two years of bi-weekly meetings resembled the deliberations of the representatives of clans who had agreed to occupy the same turf, but wanted the internal boundaries made clear. The foremost problem was allocating space for the departmental components. The architecture department and the library wanted locations on the north side of the building, the former to have a favorable exposure for the studios, the latter to avoid the damaging effects of sunlight on the books and other printed matter. The landscape architecture representatives also favored the north side, because an adjacent open space could be used for demonstration gardens. This idea was abandoned when the Melvin Calvin Building was sited in the area.

The location of the department offices was a critical issue. Although grouping the offices together expressed the spirit of the college, the departments wanted their faculty offices and support spaces located nearby. The different sizes of the departments resulted in a plan which, even though it worked in some ways, was unacceptable to the smaller departments because it had them all be lined up facing the architecture office.

Lengthy committee meetings gradually produced a workable plan. The most vocal committee members, Lucretia Nelson from the Decorative Arts department and Helen Worden from the library, won acceptance for their plan. Other plans were never formulated. Issues of department identities came up so often that Esterick suggested that the college issue department T-shirts.

Ecolog Catalog, 1980–81; Edge, published by the Ecological Design Group, Spring 1981
Figure 5 Enlarge [+]Left: Ecolog Catalog, 1980–81, Student Publications CED Records, EDA, Berkeley; Right: Edge, published by the Ecological Design Group, Spring 1981, Student Publications CED Records, EDA, Berkeley.

Consensus among the architecture faculty members was also elusive. DeMars recalled that, as with the MIT project, it was not clear to the members of the design team whether one of them should take the initiative in the design process or that they should participate equally. Although Wurster was aware that the three architects had very different perspectives, he did not see this as an impediment to production. “At least,” he affirmed, “they can work at cross-purposes together.” While Wurster did not participate formally in the design deliberations, he was the eminence grise whose wishes were taken seriously.

Esherick estimated that the two years of meetings about the building program had produced about twenty schemes. Not all were developed in any detail. However, an early scheme drawn up by Vernon DeMars in September 1959 showed the building as a set of differently scaled and articulated blocks around a generous court. But since this one and others proposed by DeMars exceeded the site boundaries, they were not successful.

DeMars’ duties as chair of the department consumed so much of his time that Donald Olsen and Joe Esherick assumed the task of creating a plan. Esherick recalled that the meetings had mostly produced frustration for the architects over how to mesh the parts of the program together. “ The way I saw it,” he said, “was that we each had different perceptions, and our means of expressing them were so different that we ended up talking about entirely different things.… So I tried to develop a common language with Don Olsen so that he and I would know what we were talking about. Don and I saw the planning issues as fairly concrete in terms of getting people through the campus and of the proper orientation of the elements of the building. Vernon tended to take a more formal or picturesque view.”

In the next series of schematic plans, Olsen and Esherick focused on the issues of circulation and orientation. One scheme had the studios, shops, and service areas in a big square tower element. This concept worked well because it provided a core for the elevator and stairs with considerable space around it. A large seminar room with a balcony occupied the top floor, an arrangement that was especially dear to Francis Violich because he thought that the designers and planners should have access to a lofty view of the building’s near and far surroundings. “But,” Esherick observed, “in addition to not working in other ways, it was a kind of dumb, square tower. Bill said square towers were ugly, so that was the end of that.”

Proposed Design for Wurster Hall
Figure 6 Enlarge [+]Proposed Design for Wurster Hall, Donald Olsen Collection (2003-1), EDA, Berkeley.

Although progress was slow, major pieces of the plan were coming together. The departmental office locations on the second floor were settled. City and Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture were on the north side along with the library. The dean’s office had a central location immediately accessible to the stairway and the entrance to the court. Architecture was next door in the second most obvious location, and Decorative Arts was down the hall to the south. Classrooms and studios were near their department offices except for the Architecture studios, which were stacked up in a tower on the north side to get the proper exposure. The sculpture studios, which had migrated to the new building along with the Decorative Arts department, occupied the south side of the building. The last major space, an auditorium to seat about 200 people, was still not anchored. Wrestling with pieces of the puzzle, Don Olsen had finally made a schematic plan that was acceptable to everyone involved.

Two elements which DeMars had tried to incorporate from the beginning of the planning period were still missing. The first was a grand, two-story stair hall, which he thought would be conducive to sociability because its location would bring faculty and students together. He also pressed for a landscaped atrium near the stair hall to enhance the meeting place. In retrospect, he concluded that his colleagues rejected these ideas because they were too romantic for the times. “The more I tried to push these ideas, the meaner and meaner the stair hall and atrium got.” There was also the issue of brick paving for the court. “We could have afforded brick.” he said, “The court of the old Ark was paved in brick. But beyond being considered sentimental, it was judged to be incompatible with concrete. So we have honest asphalt.”

Proposal for an Alternative School of Architecture, 1987; Photograph of Wurster Hall
Figure 7 Enlarge [+]Left: Proposal for an Alternative School of Architecture, 1987, CED Records, EDA, Berkeley; Right: Photograph of Wurster Hall, Joseph Esherick/EHDD Collection (1974-1), EDA, Berkeley.

With the approval of the final plan in 1960, design development could proceed. Since Donald Hardison had resigned from the team, it was necessary to find another office for the production of the working drawings.

Although the university had previously questioned whether small offices could carry out this task, the advantages in terms of continuity and rapid progress, of having the work done in the office of one of the team principals resulted in Esherick’s office being chosen to take charge. Esherick then organized a staff composed of George Homsey as the project manager and Richard Peters, Chester Bowles, D’mitri Vedensky, and Victor Torres. Weekly meetings were held with all the architects, but the design process took place largely under Esherick’s direction.

The building began to take shape with the decision to construct it of concrete inside and out, which reflected both the economics and the aesthetics of the times. However, as often happens within the subculture of architecture, the architects were also reacting to the contemporaneous design of another building, the Yale School of Architecture by Paul Rudolph, which had prompted Esherick to observe that, “You couldn’t even go to the men’s room without having a spatial experience.”

Wurster abhorred avant-garde design, “I want you to design a ruin,” he said, pounding the table for emphasis. His idea of a ruin was a building that had achieved timelessness through freedom from stylistic quirks, and although Wurster Hall has been labeled a Brutalist design, its architects have asserted that they were preoccupied with consistency in the use of materials and forms, not the Brutalist aesthetic. Their rigorous approach was akin to Louis Kahn’s idea of how a building might “become what it wanted to be. Unfortunately,” Esherick recalled, “we didn’t have the money that Kahn had for the Salk Center in La Jolla to do fantastically controlled concrete work. And the technology of color control in concrete was not what it is today. We were dealing with an unprecedented amount of concrete, and we had to have all the cement and the aggregates come from the one place; it is just not good to change the integrity of the structure.”

Isadore Thompson, the engineer for the building’s structural system, advised the architects on the use of both pre-cast and poured concrete. The pre-cast used some light-weight aggregate and was used in the sunshades and main exterior walls. Two-story pre-cast sections were lifted in place while the concrete was poured for the floors, the roof, both ends of the tower, and the east end of the south wing. The elevator core and stair towers were poured and became the sheer elements for seismic bracing. Since this was the largest building yet constructed that used pre-cast elements, the achievement of dimensional control above three stories was problematic. Yet this aspect of the structure was successful while steam-curing of the concrete, which was used to save time and reduce the number and expense of the forms, resulted in a crazed surface that had an unattractive appearance when wet.

As for the interior, Esherick acknowledged that, “We were thinking, probably unfairly, that this would be a building for architects and forgetting that a lot of other people would be in it. We also assumed that it would be inappropriate to design something with specialized environments because people’s attitudes and ideas change. So we just tried to deal with basic facts such as sun and wind. I regret that we didn’t have the money to make the library more special and that at the last minute we had to make the auditorium a deduct-alternate, which meant that it was never scheduled for construction.”

One aspect of the design that has been generally misinterpreted was the exposure of the ductwork and other mechanical equipment. Far from being an expression of style, it was a means of avoiding the tunnel-like corridors that a dropped ceiling concealing the equipment would have produced; it also provided high ceilings in the rooms. Esherick designed parts of the system. “Getting the ductwork neat and orderly was something I did because the mechanical engineers didn’t have any special feeling for it. If the ducts ran down the corridors, we could put the stringy stuff in the rooms. In the studios the main distribution is in the center so you have the feeling of a higher space around the periphery.” Having the mechanical equipment exposed also made maintenance easier and was useful in teaching.

Wurster Hall Entrance Lobby Perspective, circa 1960
Figure 8 Enlarge [+]Wurster Hall Entrance Lobby Perspective, c. 1960, CED Records, EDA, Berkeley.

When new, the mountain of concrete was crisp and, for the most part, well received as unquestionably contemporary. Wurster got his wish — no regent liked the building. In fact, Donald McLaughlin, who had served on the Campus Planning Committee with Wurster, remarked, apropos of the elegant renderings D’mitri Vedensky had made, “They should not have disguised that building with trees.”

Clark Kerr, then the university president, was shocked by the relentless repetition of concrete forms. Much earlier, during the design development phase, Louis DeMonte recalled teasing Esherick by asking him, apropos of the sunshades, if it took that much concrete to cast a shadow. At first, DeMars also questioned the use of just one material, but later he concluded that the concrete horizontals gave the building a sculptural unity consistent with its character. Esherick’s chief regret was the the university judged the building to be maintenance-free. Weak points such as the caulking were never checked or re-done when necessary.

If, as many think, the building did not age gracefully, there is no single cause. It was certainly appreciated for its capacity to withstand neglect and intensive use. While it took a beating, it kept the uncouth character that Wurster so admired; it did not become comfy like the lovable old Ark. As for fashion, the pendulum moved to the opposite side, and nostalgia for the days of rich materials and ornament prevailed.

As Wurster Hall weathered without mellowing, it reflected Wurster’s opinion that a school should be a rough place with many cracks in it. Perpetually unfinished, Wurster Hall was an open ended and provocative environment for teaching and questioning. As J. B. Jackson wrote:

Where beauty has to be sought out and extracted from a reluctant environment, the arts often seem to flourish best; wherever it exists in profusion and variety it is likely to be accepted as a condition of daily existence, a kind of birthright calling for no special acknowledgment.

— American Space, 1972

Extracting beauty from the environment is what the College of Environmental Design is about.

CED Update

Anniversaries prompt us to reflect on our past, but they also have a way of enticing us to think about our future. Arriving in time for CED’s 50th anniversary allowed me, as the new dean, to become quickly immersed in the college’s history and people, and begin to build on our legacy and traditions to sketch out future directions. Big plans are now underway, with respect to academic programs, research, and enhancements to Wurster Hall to better serve our evolving needs. Let me share them with you.

— Jennifer Wolch

Reconstruction of the bench that originally graced North Gate Hall (The Old Ark)
Using fragments left from the original bench as well as archival photographs and personal memory, Caitlin Lempres Brostrom (M.Arch 1990) and her father, Van Maren King (B.Arch 1964) developed measured drawings for the reconstruction of the bench that originally graced North Gate Hall (The Old Ark). The bench represents a piece of the folklore of the Department of Architecture. It also represents a symbol of the community that William Wurster forged when he brought four disciplines together and made the, then new, College of Environmental Design. Caitlin and her husband, Nathan Brostrom (Vice President, University of California) funded the project envisioning it as a symbol of community and continuity. The bench was made last summer entirely from reclaimed redwood timbers and was built by an undergraduate student, Chris Lesnett, with the mentorship of Paul Morrison in Wurster Hall’s shop.
From left to right: Harrison Fraker, Mario Schjetnan, Jennifer Wolch, Clare Cooper Marcus, Sir Peter Hall, Dell Upton, Carol Galante, Richard Bender, Michael Teitz, Ray Kappe, Russell Ellis. (Photo: Eric Gillet)

Programs

Sustainable Urbanism and Design. More and more of our students clamor for the intellectual understanding and technical tools needed to build new or transform existing cities and buildings to achieve critical sustainability goals. In response, the College is designing a new college-wide undergraduate major on Sustainable Urbanism and Design that we hope will serve students interested in building science, resource efficient landscape architecture and design, and sustainable city planning.

Summer [In]stitutes. CED has launched the Berkeley Summer [In]stitutes for post-baccalaureate students interested in environmental design careers. During three [In]stitutes — [In]Arch, [In]City, and [In]Land — over 200 students will convene at Wurster for 2 months of intensive study, emerging at the end of the experience with an understanding of the fields and a real live portfolio for graduate school.

Wurster Design & Innovation Studio. With colleagues from the Haas School of Business, and others across campus, CED has established a pilot studio on the 5th Floor of Wurster Hall, to jump-start a program in “Design Thinking” — the collaborative, interdisciplinary practice that many of us are familiar with, and that is increasingly vital to crafting new business concepts, innovative products, social ventures, communications strategies, and urban places in a rapidly changing world. Work started this Spring semester, with faculty and students creating a space for planning, sketching, project reviews, and coaching. We plan to offer short-courses, encourage start-up ventures and green product development, and make the Wurster Design & Innovation Studio accessible to collaborative projects.

Cool New Minors. In response to the fact that courses on geographic information systems, remote sensing, spatial statistics, and related technologies are scattered across campus, we have collaborated with several schools and colleges to develop a new undergraduate minor and graduate emphasis in Geospatial Data, Science and Technology. This will allow us to meet the burgeoning demand for GIS, and permit faculty to teach more advanced courses. And, in partnership with others on campus — in materials science, biotechnology, and elsewhere — we plan to establish a new undergraduate minor in Biomimetic Design, with guidance from the Biomimicry Institute, whose founder Janine Benyus was just named one of the world’s 27 most influential designers. This minor will introduce students to the way in which understanding natural process, materials, and architectures can be harnessed to revolutionize the way we construct buildings and the built environment.

Green Design and Finance. With the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics at the Haas School of Business, CED is creating executive education programs on financing green design for real estate finance, construction, engineering, and environmental design industry professionals. The emphasis will be on how real estate finance firms can make the business case for incorporating energy efficient designs, especially for retrofits.

Carmel Friesen and Jennifer Wolch at the CAA Charter Gala
Carmel “Candy” Friesen and Jennifer Wolch at the CAA Charter Gala on April 24, 2010 at the San Francisco Ferry Building.
CAA Excellence in Achievement Award is presented to Carol Galante; CAA Excellence in Service Award is presented to Carmel Friesen
Left: CAA Excellence in Achievement Award is presented to Carol Galante, M.C.P. ’78, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Multifamily Housing Programs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Right: CAA Excellence in Service Award is presented to Carmel “Candy” Friesen ’50, Founder of the Carmel P. Friesen Chair in Urban Studies at the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design.

Research

Two new research centers have been established over the past year. The Center for a Sustainable California, led by Professor Robert Cervero, is initially focusing on the implications of California’s landmark law SB 375. This legislation requires localities to create land-use and transportation plans that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Center seeks to understand how local governments are responding to this challenge. The Center for Resource Efficient Cities, led by Professor Louise Mozingo, is a partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and funded by the California Energy Commission. The Center conducts research on how to design urban communities to reduce automobile trips, cool the urban heat island, infiltrate urban runoff and recharge groundwater.

Room 101 renovation
Room 101 is renovated and fully equipped with a new AV system, new comfortable tablet-arm chairs as well as an architectural installation of construction materials. The wall of materials is an educational tool for inspiring young designers. Architect Anne Fougeron and her staff redesigned what was an utterly outmoded and depressing space, transforming it into a contemporary classroom space the students and faculty have enjoyed this semester and will enjoy for years to come. (Photos: Eric Gillet)
Room 101 renovation
Room 101 is renovated and fully equipped with a new AV system, new comfortable tablet-arm chairs as well as an architectural installation of construction materials. The wall of materials is an educational tool for inspiring young designers. Architect Anne Fougeron and her staff redesigned what was an utterly outmoded and depressing space, transforming it into a contemporary classroom space the students and faculty have enjoyed this semester and will enjoy for years to come. (Photos: Eric Gillet)

Wurster Hall Updates

Wurster Hall got an anniversary present: a renovated CED Auditorium. Building on Stanley Saitowitz’ original design, the Auditorium was newly carpeted and got a fresh coat of paint, advanced audiovisual equipment was installed along with new lights, and the room was furnished with comfortable new tablet arm chairs. Moreover, other classroom space got some great upgrades, especially Room 101, which was remodeled tip-to-toe, due to the generosity of a CED donor. Maintaining Wurster’s industrial feel, the classroom boasts a wall-mounted display of building materials, high-technology computer technology, bright new seating, and energy-efficient globe lighting. Our fabrication facility — designed by James Prestini many years ago — is also being redesigned with the help of EHDD Architecture and Anderson and Anderson Architecture, to integrate the CAD/CAM equipment that is now so critical to the ability of our students to learn digital design and advanced fabrication techniques. And lastly, we are creating the first permanent exhibit space for the college — a 2,200 square foot space on the first floor, where we can have major exhibits, installations, and ongoing student juries. Fougeron Architecture has done the preliminary design. So look out for an invitation to the opening of the CED Gallery!

Rendering of New Wurster Hall Gallery
Rendering of New Wurster Hall Gallery by Fougeron Architecture.
CED Dean Jennifer Wolch thanks Cynthia and Norm Dyer
During a visit to Wurster Hall, CED Dean Jennifer Wolch thanks Cynthia (’58) and Norm Dyer (M.Arch. ’59) for their planned gift towards an undergraduate scholarship in Architecture.

It is especially gratifying to me, in my first year as dean, to have met so many of our alumni and supporters. I commend you for your regular attendance at events, generous support of the college and quick response to our requests. Like you, I am amazed at the energy, purpose, and sheer brilliance of our students. I am also deeply impressed by the commitment of my faculty colleagues to their teaching and research and continually heartened by the expertise, creativity, and loyalty of the CED staff. We are all committed to the same purpose — the welfare of CED and its ideals, and to the greater good of public education in California.