Berkeley Landmarks :: 1948 Southside Plan


1948 Southside Plan

Daniella Thompson

The university housing development suggested in 1948 would have swallowed 20 Southside blocks (Source: California Alumni Association, “Students at Berkeley,” 1948)

29 April 2005

In 1948, U.C. Berkeley enrollment was 22,000, and adequate housing was determined to be the number-one problem facing the student body. That year, the California Alumni Association published the book Students at Berkeley, which analized potential student housing sites. The Northside—and in particular the Wilson Tract on the hills north and east of the campus, where the Foothill Student Housing Complex is now located—was judged unsuitable for student housing owing to “very unfavorable topography” and “remoteness from the center of student activities.” Older buildings—the Victorians and Colonial Revivals now prized as historic resources—were also deemed inadequate for student habitation.

On the Southside, the suggested university housing development (see overlay in the image above) dictated a radically clean sweep of the twenty city blocks between College Avenue, Bancroft Way, Fulton Street, and Dwight Way, retaining only “institutions of quasi-public and social character” and the Telegraph Avenue-Bancroft Way business district. The rest was to be occupied by “elevator-type living centers” with “generous open space for recreation and amenity.”

The highrise Units 1, 2, and 3 student housing complexes emerged from that plan, resulting in much destruction to the Southside’s historic housing stock.

University buildings on the Southside (Source: U.C. Berkeley). This map has not been updated to reflect recent construction, including the Ida Louise Jackson Graduate House; three new mini-suite infill buildings at Units 1 & 2; the Yoritaka Wada Apartments infill building at Unit 2; the Channing Bowditch Apartments; the Crossroads dining facility; and the Students Affairs Building adjacent to the Underhill parking lot (see John Kenyons article “An Architectural Mixed Bag: Shock and Awe on UC South Campus”).

Watch U.C. construction projects on the university’s Capital Projects website.



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