BAHA Preservation Awards 2013

Part Two


North Berkeley Branch Library (photo: Carrie Olson, 2013)

North Berkeley Branch Library
1170 The Alameda
(James W. Plachek, 1936)

Decades of heavy use had taken their toll on this beloved North Berkeley landmark. Added to that, the structure was not seismically safe by 21st-century standards. Berkeley voters came to the rescue, voting funds for restoration and upgrades. Demands on the budget also included the need for a new community room, library offices, and facilities in the ample rear of the parcel.

Photo: Carrie Olson, 2013

The original portico at the main entry was restored, and the stenciled ceiling of the main dome was made viewable again after 6 decades of being obscured by dropped fluorescent lighting. And the glorious missing lamp—a large pendant—was recreated in the center. Original shelving was refinished, the walls were stripped down and replastered and soundproofed where warranted, and spaces repurposed for their digital collection.

Photo: Carrie Olson, 2013

The new uses in the library include a teen-only room, a computer area, a community room in the new lower level, and new bathrooms on both levels.

The exterior received a fresh coat of paint whose color scheme matches Karl Kardel’s 1970s hand-mixed colors, obtained from crushed Northbrea Rhyolite—the yellowish rock endemic to North Berkeley. For comparison’s sake, that original paint is left in the name-plate panel above the front entrance that bears the name of the library.

Cororation Yard, before

Berkeley City Corporation Yard
1326 Alston Way
(Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr., 1916)

When the City of Berkeley decided to consolidate its city vehicles in the early years of the 20th century, this was still a horse town. The plan was to have a central location fitting all needs, including horse-drawn equipment and motor vehicles. The stately brick building we know today as the Corp Yard was a place where hard work—often dirty—was done; it was known at the Rat Building for many decades.

Cororation Yard, after (photo: Carrie Olson, 2013)

Now the building incorporates city offices, and the transformation is nothing short of amazing. The roof trusses, once painted white but still intact, have been left exposed. Modern offices have been installed throughout. Original doors, windows, and entries were restored. The east wing, built as horse-and-wagon stalls, has been largely demolished, although there are pieces of the original incorporated into the building we see now.

The main conference room plays on the multifaceted ceiling of the western portion of the main building, and the floors are raised four feet off the grade to house all the wiring, plumbing, cables, and networks underneath panels that can be removed for servicing.

A new addition, replacing an earlier addition is on the south side, but not visible from the public view.

Alumnae Hall (photo: Carrie Olson, 2013)

Alumnae Hall, Anna Head School
2537 Haste Street
(Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr., 1926)

Twenty-four years after the Anna Head School opened, it had grown to the point where it needed a special gathering place for each morning’s assembly (or “Chapel,” as it was called), for dances, plays, and concerts—in short, for its life as a community. U.C. acquired the Anna Head campus by eminent domain in 1963, and all its buildings were slated for demolition to make way for a parking structure that providentially was never built. For many years, this building was used as a child care center by the university. Now in its third incarnation, it can once again open its doors to the community and realize its potential as an event- and performance space.

Photo: Carrie Olson, 2013

The last building to be built on the Anna Head campus, Alumnae Hall is now the first to be rehabilitated. With faithful respect for the original design and consistent craftsmanship, the project provides both a high standard for the future and an inspiration for the renovation of other buildings in this historic complex. The reconstruction of the balcony on its south side and the removal of the aluminum windows have restored the symmetry of the interior. Steel beams assure seismic strength. Surfaces, both the exterior shingles and the interior’s decorative stenciling, lively touches of polychrome and gleaming wood floor, have come back to life.

Let us hope that this project will mark a turning point in the life of the Anna Head complex. With imagination and energy, it can finally become a respected, vibrant part of the Berkeley campus.

Part Three
Awards 2013

Copyright © 2013 BAHA. All rights reserved.