Berkeley Landmarks :: Haviland Hall & Tien Center

Campus planning schizophrenia

New Century Plan goes one way,
LRDP goes another.

Daniella Thompson

Tien Center for East Asian Studies (former plan), Haviland Hall (beyond)
and McCone Hall (to the right), seen from the top of the Campanile.

16 October 2003

The University of California recently released its Notice of Preparation (NOP) for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the next Long Range Development Plan (LRDP), which will “present a framework for campus land use and physical development to meet the academic goals and objectives of UC Berkeley through the year 2020.”

When the university prepares an EIR, we know we’re in for a major spurt in construction and campus expansion. In fact, major construction sometimes proceeds without an EIR, as we’re witnessing in the case of the Molecular Foundry.

Side-by-side with the LRDPs and the EIRs, the university is nurturing the New Century Plan (NCP), whose second most-important stated goal is to ensure that each new investment preserves and enhances our extraordinary legacy of landscape and architecture,” and whose Strategic Academic Plan lists as its first principle Limit Future Growth.”

An important component of the NCP is Landscape Preservation, where the first strategic goal is protecting significant natural areas and open spaces from further development, and for which Policy 2.1 was created to “ensure no new projects intrude into the landscape preservation zones, as defined in the Design Guidelines.

In the Campus Architecture component of the NCP, one of the stated strategic goalsis ensuring new buildings enhance the spatial and architectural integrity of the classical core.”

These and other noble goals pepper the NCP, while all the while mega-construction proceeds at full tilt and planning for further expansion continues unabated.

The recent NOP gives us a tidy demonstration of campus planning schizophrenia, embodied in the proposal for the Chang-Lin Tien Center for East Asian Studies, tacked onto the 2020 LRDP although it should have been part of the current LRDP (which runs through 2005).

The NOP states: “The Tien Center is envisioned as a composition of two rectangular buildings. Phase 1 will be located at the south base of Observatory Hill on the site of the existing parking lot, facing Memorial Glade and Doe Library, and aligned with the central axis of the Glade.

Phase 2 will be sited at the west base of Observatory Hill adjacent to Haviland Hall, oriented 90 to Phase 1
” The map at left is a detail of the campus map in the LRDP NOP. It shows the proposed siting of both Tien Center phases.

The LRDP siting plan differs considerably from the original plan displayed on the Tien Center website and the University Library website, where Phase 2 of the Tien Center is located on the east flank of Observatory Hill, near McCone Hall, as shown to the right.

Why is this difference in siting important? Because it affects two key resources on campus—Haviland Hall and Observatory Hill—and is directly at odds with the New Century Plan’s stated goals and policies.

Haviland Hall (top), University House (left) & Giannini Hall (bottom)

Haviland Hall (1924) is one of the campus’s architectural treasures. Designed by John Galen Howard, it was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark in 1981 (the bulk of the campus Landmarks were designated in 1988). It is #82002161 on the National Register of Historic Places, added in 1982.

Among the major academic buildings on campus, Haviland Hall is the most secluded. On all four sides, it is surrounded by landscaped open space, much of it consisting of dense tree and shrub plantings. On the eastern side of Haviland lies the historic Observatory Hill, home to a variety of native species, including Manzanita (Arctostaphylos densiflora), Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii), Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia), and California Buckeye (Aesculus californica). Trisetum canescens, a native perennial grass that is otherwise very rare in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, can be found in Observatory Hill’s oak understory.

Observatory Hill between McCone (top) & Haviland Halls—how much of it will survive?

Observatory Hill behind Haviland Hall (photo: Nick Buchanan)
Manzanita in bloom behind Haviland Hall
(photo: Jay Cross)

  The nature spots in the photos above will be sacrificed if Phase 2 of the Tien Center is built on the west flank of Observatory Hill next to Haviland Hall (see more photos). Adding insult to injury, the campus Preservation Zones plan outlined in the map on the left treats the Tien Center as a fait accompli, making believe that the green area that still exists on the west flank of Observatory Hill is already gone and therefore not in need of preserving (see area within purple square). So much for “protecting significant natural areas and open spaces from further development.

Phase 1, planned at a 90 angle to Haviland Hall, will not keep to the perimeter of the Haviland parking lot but intrude into the southeastern part of Observatory Hill, where a number of mature specimen trees are to be found. Furthermore, the monumental and heavy-handed eastern entry plaza and steps planned for the Tien Library will do away with an even larger chunk of the nature area.

Tien Library’s eastern entry plaza

Haviland Hall itself is doomed to be overshadowed by the considerably taller Tien Center buildings (according to the NOP, “each building will be roughly 75’ in height above the existing ground plane”). The photo below shows the previous plan for Tien, with Phase 2 positioned on the other side of Observatory Hill, near McCone Hall. McCone is several stories higher and can handle the competition (it’s also no beauty queen and possesses no historic significance). Haviland, situated on lower ground, is barely visible in this scheme. With Tien 2 next to it, Haviland Hall will be even more severely overwhelmed and trivialized. The view of Haviland from the Campanile esplanade will be compromised in either case. This flies in the face of Policy 3.1 in the Campus Architecture Strategic Goals:

Projects within the Classical Core shall enhance the integrity of this ensemble, and complement rather than compete with existing historic buildings.

Tien Library (Haviland Hall barely visible on the left), seen from Doe Library.

Building on Observatory Hill is not consistent with the goals of the New Century Plan. A site far more suitable for conserving natural resources would be the parking lot behind Dwinelle Hall, which is slated for in-fill in the 2020 LRDP.

Since the university is determined to accord the Tien Center a prominent place in the Central Glade, here is a modest suggestion. Sometimes, moving a department is preferable to the loss of key resources. If the School of Social Welfare were to move to another location (the parking lot behind Dwinelle Hall, for example), Haviland Hall would make an ideal new home for the Tien Center, which could be supplemented with a smaller second building on the Haviland parking lot. If this second building were to oriented not at 90 to Haviland but at the angle of the existing parking lot, and if its entrance were repositioned, Observatory Hill would go untouched, and Haviland Hall would retain the prominence it deserves.

Take a virtual tour of Observatory Hill behind Haviland Hall.



Copyright © 2003–2013 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.