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The History Behind UC Berkeley’s Architecture



UC Berkeley's Architecture

When I was in high school, I decided I wanted to attend a college with breathtaking architecture — not necessarily a well-known college, or a good college, but one with jaw-dropping buildings and awe-inspiring libraries. Growing up in the suburbs, where the landscape is flat and lifeless and the buildings look identical, I craved architecture that was diverse in style and rich in history. This dream was realized when I was accepted to Berkeley. The first time I visited campus, I fell in love with its buildings right away.

The history behind UC Berkeley’s architecture is more intriguing and complex than most people realize. Opened in 1855, UC Berkeley was originally just a two-acre campus in Oakland, then called the College of California. At the time, what we know today as the city of Berkeley was nothing more than wilderness, punctuated by the occasional piece of farmland, just a few miles north of Oakland. But in 1868, the state of California bought a small plot of land in Berkeley and officially chartered the University of California. Frederick Law Olmsted, who is famous for designing New York’s Central Park, was hired to design the new campus in Berkeley. This campus looked nothing like the campus we know today — it had a grand total of 40 students, 10 professors, and two buildings: North Hall, which has since been demolished, and South Hall, which is still standing today. South Hall’s architectural style is distinct from most other buildings on campus: its brick facade, ornamental moldings, and strikingly shaped windows are evidence of the Second Empire architectural style, which flourished in the latter half of the nineteenth century and was notable for its opulence and Gothic influence.

As UC Berkeley grew larger throughout the late 1800s, so did its need for more buildings. What we now know as some of the most iconic buildings on campus were actually the result of an architectural competition financed by philanthropist Phoebe Hearst in 1898. The International Competition for the Phoebe Hearst International Plan for the University of California, as it was called, was borne out of the rivalry between the prominent Stanford and Hearst families — two extremely wealthy and distinctly old money families from Northern California. Soon after the Stanford family founded Stanford University, the Hearst family adopted the University of California and committed to funding it. When the competition’s winner Émile Bénard declined to be appointed as the campus’ architect, fourth-place winner John Galen Howard was tasked with implementing Bénard’s plan for the campus’ design.

Howard was responsible for the distinct classical style of numerous campus buildings and landmarks, from the elaborate patterns of Sather Gate to the striking Grecian columns of Wheeler Hall. Howard utilized the Beaux-Arts classical style, which was taught at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he was educated in the early 1890s. This architectural style is notable for its emphasis on neoclassical, Gothic, and Renaissance designs. One of Howard’s most impressive buildings is Doe Library, one of the defining landmarks of Berkeley’s campus. The library was imagined as both the physical and intellectual center of campus and has strong Greco-Roman influences, seen in its twelve imposing columns and marbled interior. The reading rooms inside Doe, with their intricately carved ceilings, ornate wood paneling, and towering windows, offer the feel of a traditional European university.

Howard also designed what is arguably Berkeley’s most famous landmark, Sather Tower. Often referred to as “the Campanile,” due to its resemblance to the Campanile di San Marco in Italy, Sather Tower is the third-tallest clock tower in the world and, notably, houses numerous fossils from prehistoric times due to its cool and dry interior. Sather Tower is also notable for its location — on a clear day, one can stand on the steps in front of the tower and look straight across the Bay at the Golden Gate Bridge. Ultimately, Howard designed 18 buildings on campus, including Wheeler Hall, California Hall, Stephens Hall, and the Greek Theater, and established the university’s iconic look.

As he designed Berkeley’s campus, Howard was assisted by architect Julia Morgan, who attended Berkeley from 1890 to 1894. Because there was no architecture major at the time, Morgan studied civil engineering and was often the only woman in her classes. She was also the first woman to ever be admitted to the École des Beaux-Arts. Morgan was a renowned architect in her own right, designing over 700 iconic buildings in California including the Berkeley City Club and the lavish Hearst Castle in San Simeon. At Berkeley, Morgan was instrumental in helping Howard implement the Beaux-Arts style on campus. Some buildings heavily influenced by Morgan’s direction include the Hearst Gymnasium for Women, the Hearst Memorial Mining Building, and Morgan Hall at the UC Botanical Garden. The Hearst Gymnasium for Women is noteworthy for its concrete exterior and emphasis on Romantic Classicism, while the Mining Building best illustrates Morgan and Howard’s commitment to combining the esteemed classical Beaux-Arts tradition with contemporary regional influence, in that it is reminiscent of both a stately European building as well as a traditional California mission. Although Morgan’s work was essential to shaping Berkeley’s campus, her contribution is often overlooked due to the fact that she was a woman. Howard once told a colleague that Morgan was “an excellent craftsman whom I have to pay almost nothing, as it is a woman.”

One of the most interesting aspects of Berkeley’s campus is the way that it is designed completely around the natural environment. Howard was fascinated with the wildlife and nature of Berkeley, and kept this in mind when designing the campus. He painstakingly tried to preserve Strawberry Creek, the Eucalyptus Grove, and several natural glades, building around these features and incorporating them into the campus rather than destroying them. Howard especially valued landscape architecture, and felt preserving the natural environment was just as important as maintaining the built environment. The unparalleled diversity of trees, plants, and flowers on campus made the university feel peaceful and idyllic, even though it was situated in the middle of a rapidly urbanizing city. Natural landmarks on campus include the oddly shaped London Plane trees on the north side of Sather Tower in the Campanile Esplanade, the redwood trees located to the west of McCone Hall, and the tall and twisted California Buckeye Tree, located on Faculty Glade, which is the oldest native tree on campus and represents Berkeley’s natural landscape before the founding of the University.

Howard was ultimately dismissed as Berkeley’s supervising architect by the UC Board of Regents in 1924, due to his strong opinions and frequent clashes with the university administration. His successor Arthur Brown Jr. graduated from Berkeley in 1896, and is best known for designing City Hall and the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, as well as Hoover Tower at Stanford University. Brown attempted to recreate Howard’s elaborate and classical style, but faced financial constraints due to the economic conditions at the time. This was during the Great Depression and World War II, and university funds were tight, although there was also a pressing need for new buildings to accommodate the growing student body. Buildings designed by Brown, such as Sproul Hall and the Bancroft Library, echo the Beaux-Arts style but are much more minimalist in design. Additionally, the Valley Life Sciences Building, colloquially called VLSB, was designed in 1930 by George W. Kelham, yet another graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts. VLSB is notable for its sheer size of over 400,000 square feet. It was the largest concrete building west of the Mississippi at the time it was built, and is still the largest building on campus. At one point, VLSB required so much power that it temporarily broke the university’s power generator.

During the 1960s, an exponential increase in students led to a desperate need for the expansion of both educational buildings as well as student housing. By this time, the architectural style of Brutalism was popular. Brutalist buildings are characterized by their monolithic and geometric appearance, as well as their massive size and use of concrete. The Brutalist buildings on campus — like Evans Hall, Wurster Hall, and Barrows Hall — are often derided as “ugly” or “plain,” primarily because they are strikingly different from the elaborate and classical Beaux-Arts buildings on campus. The 1960s also saw the construction of the Student Union building on Sproul Plaza, which was a timely addition considering the proliferation of the student-led Free Speech Movement. During the Free Speech Movement, protestors often gathered in front of the imposing and unyielding Sproul Hall, a representation of the unsympathetic indifference of the university administration to the passion and anger that emanated throughout campus.

In recent years, campus expansion has slowed, with the campus focusing on repairing older buildings, though some new buildings have still been erected. These new buildings are notable for their sleek, modern, and minimalistic design, with an emphasis on using natural materials. Stanley Hall, which was built in 2007, is notable for its large size and white and green tiles. Berkeley’s newest library, the C. V. Starr East Asian Library, has a similarly modern style, as well as distinctly East Asian influences. It is made of granite and clay tile, and is reminiscent of traditional Asian architecture through its use of the cracked ice motif on the screens outside the library. The Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences, the newest building on campus, uses wood, bamboo, and lots of natural light.

Currently, Berkeley is working on retrofitting and remodeling certain campus buildings, some of which are hundreds of years old, to make them more structurally sound and earthquake-safe. In 2019, Tolman Hall, which had a seismic rating of “deficient,” was demolished. Seismic safety corrections are also being made to Giannini Hall, which was built in 1930. But there are new buildings and facilities being constructed, like the Bakar BioEnginuity Hub at Woo Hon Fai Hall. There are many new construction projects in the planning and development phase, including a new beach volleyball facility at Clark Kerr, an expansion of the Goldman School of Public Policy, and new student housing in People’s Park.

While many Berkeley students see our campus’ architectural history as interesting but unimportant, architecture and physical space have a profound impact on our everyday lives. Architecture is more than just the built environment; it greatly affects and is affected by our culture, emotions, and worldview. I am writing this article not in one of Berkeley’s many libraries, as I had planned to, but back home at my parents’ house in the suburbs, due to the pandemic that has forced so many of us to leave Berkeley and return to our hometowns. There is nothing I want more right now than to watch a sunset from the fifth floor balcony of McCone, to look up and be able to see the Campanile no matter where I am on campus, or even to get lost in the never ending hallways of Dwinelle. While these times are incredibly uncertain, to me, it is a reassuring thought that architecture and physical space are one of the few things that will be there no matter what. It is comforting to know that the buildings on my campus, the places where I spend so much time and that have undoubtedly impacted me in ways that I am still trying to understand, are unfazed by the fear and doubt that has disrupted so many of the world’s institutions — and they will remain when it is all over.

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Enhancing Home Protection and Value: A Complete Guide to Roofing Replacement in Seattle



Roofing Replacement Process

A good roof protects any home, its occupants, and its contents from weather elements, securing even the walls from damage. And in a place as vibrant and busy as Seattle, which is often accompanied by the drizzle of rain and moisture, the role of a good roof goes through the roof. This guide was put together to encapsulate what one may look for when a roof needs replacement, the benefits of investing in a new roof, popular choices for roofing material throughout Seattle’s climate, and how to protect your property and its value for years to come.

Signs That Roofing Replacement is Needed

Seattle’s climate, characterized by regular rainfall and humidity, can damage roofs over time. Homeowners should be on the lookout for some common signs of damage or deterioration to their roofs. These signs could include leaks, missing or damaged shingles, and sagging, along with those signs that are obvious for aged roofs, such as curling or buckling shingles. They are very profitable: regular roof inspections, especially after harsh weather, will help find at an early stage problems that would otherwise spoil, with far more costly damage, the interior of the house.

Benefits of Roofing Replacement

This has advantages for the Seattle homeowner replacing an old or damaged roof. A new roof will offer better protection against leaking and water damage, something indispensable in a city with excessive rainfall. Further, a maintained roof increases a property’s curb appeal, thereby adding value to it and making it more appealing to any buyer among the cutthroat competition in the Seattle real estate market.

In addition, energy-efficient roofing materials can be long-lasting, and help cut down on heating and cooling bills in the home, leading to a sustainable and eco-friendly living habitat.

Roofing Material Options

When considering what type of new roof you want for your Seattle-area home, you’ll have several options regarding materials and their benefits and considerations.

  • Asphalt Shingles: Asphalt Shingles dominate the roofing shingle market because of their cost, durability, and suitability for various architectural designs. They come in all styles and colors to fit any architectural design.
  • Metal Roofing: Metal roofs are number one not only in Seattle but also indubitably due to their unsurpassed durability, long life, and energy-efficient qualities. The big benefits of metal roofs are that they resist heavy rains, fire, mold, and mildew.
  • Tile Roofing: Ideal for houses styled in the Spanish or Mediterranean manner in Seattle, tile roofing has a timeless aesthetic value and amazing durability. However, it is much costlier than other options, but when maintained properly, tile roofs can last for decades.
  • Wood Shakes: Wood shakes create a more natural, rustic texture suitable for a Pacific Northwest setting rich in green surroundings. However, they require periodic maintenance to stave off their decay, mold, and moss, especially in a wet Seattle climate.

Roofing Replacement Process

The roofing replacement services in Seattle begin with an initial assessment of the existing roof’s condition. A professional roofing contractor will inspect the roof for signs of damage or deterioration and provide recommendations for replacement. Once the decision to replace the roof is made, the old roofing materials are removed, and the roof deck is inspected and prepared for installing new materials. The new roofing materials are installed according to manufacturer specifications, ensuring a watertight seal and optimal protection against Seattle’s rainy weather. Finally, finishing touches such as flashing, ventilation, and ridge caps are added to complete the replacement process.

Roofing Replacement Process


A well-maintained roof is essential for protecting a home from the elements and preserving its value. By investing in roofing replacement, Seattle homeowners can ensure their property remains secure, comfortable, and attractive for years. Whether it’s asphalt shingles, metal roofing, tile roofing, or wood shakes, choosing the suitable material and working with experienced professionals is key to achieving a successful roofing replacement project in Seattle’s unique climate.

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How Plantation Shutters Improve Home Energy Efficiency



Home Energy Efficiency


Energy efficiency is a growing concern for homeowners looking to reduce their environmental footprint and save on utility bills. Plantation shutters offer an effective solution to improve home insulation and energy efficiency. This blog explores how plantation shutters can enhance your home’s energy performance and provide practical tips for maximising their benefits.

Insulation Properties of Plantation Shutters

Plantation shutters are known for their excellent insulation properties. They create a barrier that helps regulate indoor temperatures by keeping heat out during summer and retaining warmth during winter.

Summer Benefits

In the hot summer months, plantation shutters can significantly reduce the amount of heat entering your home. By blocking direct sunlight, they help maintain a cooler indoor environment, reducing the need for air conditioning and lowering energy consumption.

Winter Benefits

During winter, plantation shutters act as an additional layer of insulation. They trap heat inside, preventing it from escaping through windows. This helps keep your home warmer and reduces the need for constant heating, resulting in lower energy bills.

Reducing Energy Bills with Plantation Shutters

One of the most appealing benefits of plantation shutters is their ability to lower energy bills. By improving insulation, they reduce the need for heating and cooling systems to work overtime, leading to significant savings.

Energy Savings Calculations

The exact savings will vary depending on your home and climate, but studies have shown that well-installed plantation shutters can reduce energy costs by up to 30%. This makes them a cost-effective investment that pays off over time.

Environmental Impact

Beyond personal savings, using plantation shutters contributes to a larger environmental impact by reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainable Materials

Choosing shutters made from sustainable materials further enhances their eco-friendly credentials. Opt for shutters crafted from sustainably sourced wood or recycled materials to minimise your environmental footprint.

Maximising Energy Efficiency

To get the most out of your plantation shutters, it’s essential to consider a few key factors during selection and installation.

Proper Installation

Proper installation is crucial for maximising energy efficiency. Ensure that your shutters fit snugly within the window frame to prevent any gaps that could allow air to escape.

If you are unsure about the proper installation, you may want to contact Apollo Window Blinds for a good installation service at an affordable cost. They offer a mobile showroom for you to choose perfect interior plantation shutters without the hassle of going outdoors. Services are available within the Australian regions such as NSW, ACT, and QLD.

Double-Glazed Windows

Combining plantation shutters with double-glazed windows can enhance their insulating properties. Double glazing provides an additional layer of insulation, further reducing heat transfer and improving energy efficiency.


Plantation shutters are a stylish and practical solution for improving home energy efficiency. By enhancing insulation, they help maintain a comfortable indoor environment and reduce energy costs. With the added benefit of sustainability, plantation shutters are an excellent choice for eco-conscious homeowners.


How do plantation shutters improve energy efficiency?

Plantation shutters improve energy efficiency by providing excellent insulation, reducing the need for heating and cooling systems, and lowering energy bills.

What are the environmental benefits of plantation shutters?

Plantation shutters contribute to reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Choosing sustainable materials enhances their eco-friendly impact.

Can plantation shutters be combined with double-glazed windows?

Yes, combining plantation shutters with double-glazed windows enhances their insulating properties, further improving energy efficiency.

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Transform Your Garage: Durability, Style, and Easy Maintenance with Epoxy



Transform Your Garage

Key Takeaways:

  • Epoxy flooring offers a durable, stylish, and low-maintenance solution for garage floors.
  • Protects against chemical spills, heavy impacts, and wear and tear.
  • It comes in various colors and finishes to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your garage.
  • It is a simple installation process and easy to maintain over time.

Why Choose Epoxy Flooring for Your Garage?

Epoxy flooring is a favored option among homeowners who want to enhance their garage floors. It delivers a smooth, shiny surface that can completely change the garage’s appearance and has unmatched advantages. One of the key benefits of engaging an epoxy installer is the exceptional strength and ability to resist damage. This flooring can endure significant wear and tear, making it perfect for spaces that experience heavy foot traffic and constant activity.

Durability That Stands the Test of Time

One of the most compelling reasons to choose epoxy flooring for your garage is its incredible durability. Epoxy coatings create a rigid, long-lasting surface that can withstand heavy traffic, chemical spills, and abrasions. Epoxy flooring can withstand the weight of large machinery and cars without chipping or peeling because of its remarkable impact resistance. Whether parking your car, using heavy tools or experiencing day-to-day wear and tear, the epoxy floor remains resilient and long-lasting.

Aesthetic Appeal: Style Your Garage with Epoxy

Apart from its functional benefits, epoxy flooring is also known for its aesthetic appeal. Homeowners can personalize the appearance of their garage with its assortment of colors and finishes. Epoxy can match your desired design aesthetic, whether you’re more interested in a solid hue, a metallic finish, or an eye-catching flake pattern. This flexibility makes it easier to create a garage that complements the overall style of your home. From an industrial-chic vibe to a sleek and modern look, epoxy flooring can adapt to any aesthetic choice, making your garage functional and visually appealing.

Easy Maintenance for a Hassle-Free Garage

Maintaining an epoxy garage floor is surprisingly easy. The seamless surface prevents dirt, dust, and grime from accumulating, making cleaning simple. While most spills may be cleaned with a moist towel, routine upkeep calls for periodic sweeping and mopping. This low-maintenance feature appeals especially to time-pressed homeowners who want to reduce maintenance. The non-porous nature of epoxy floors also means they resist stains, repelling oil, chemicals, and other substances that could mar traditional cement floors. This ensures your garage remains pristine with minimal effort.

Quick and Straightforward Installation

Installing epoxy flooring is a straightforward process, although it is recommended that professionals do it to ensure optimal results. The steps typically include surface preparation, application of the epoxy coating, and a curing period. The entire process takes a few days, and once completed, you’ll have a stunning, robust garage floor that will last for years. Professionals ensure the preparation is thorough—cleaning the concrete slab, repairing any cracks, and grinding the surface to enhance adhesion. This meticulous preparation ensures the epoxy bonds ideally, providing a robust and durable finish.

Protect Your Investment

Investing in epoxy flooring enhances the look of your garage and protects the concrete substrate underneath. The epoxy coating is a barrier against moisture, oil stains, and other contaminants, which can deteriorate the concrete over time. According to an article, this protective layer significantly extends the lifespan of your garage floor, making it a cost-effective solution in the long run. By preventing cracks and damage to the underlying concrete, you’ll save on potential future repairs, making epoxy an economically wise choice.

Environmentally Friendly and Safe

Many epoxy resins are safer options for environmentally conscious households because of their low volatile organic compound (VOC) concentration. Additionally, the non-slip surface of epoxy flooring reduces the risk of accidents, providing a safer environment for your family and pets. Safety-enhancing additives can be mixed into the epoxy resin to create a textured, non-slip surface, offering protection against slips and falls. This makes epoxy a visually appealing option and a practical and safe flooring solution.

Versatility Beyond the Garage

Epoxy flooring is a solid and adaptable choice for various residential areas, such as garages, basements, workshops, and business spaces. It offers style, easy maintenance, and durability, making it an intelligent investment for various applications. Whether you’re transforming a home gym, creative studio, or retail space, epoxy flooring ensures a durable and attractive solution that adapts to your needs. Investing in epoxy flooring is not just a cosmetic upgrade; it’s a long-term solution that enhances safety, usability, and visual appeal in one of the most overlooked areas of your home.

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