Berkeley Landmarks :: Observatory Hill Threatened

Observatory Hill at risk

These nature areas are slated for extinction.

Daniella Thompson

The rear of Haviland Hall, seen from Observatory Hill.
Phase 2 of Tien Center will be built here.

8 February 2004

The University of California’s 2020 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) includes plans for two new large buildings in the classic core of the campus.

Phase 1 and phase 2 of the Chang-Lin Tien Center for East Asian Studies are to be prominently sited on the northern edge of the Central Glade, across from the Doe Library (see Campus planning schizophrenia):

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 photos below show the nature areas and the landmark building that will be negatively affected by the proposed siting.

Phase 1

Haviland Hall parking lot. The stone wall and the trees and shrubs lining it will be sacrificed for the construction of Phase 1 of the Tien Center. Haviland Hall (John Galen Howard, 1924), a City of Berkeley Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will disappear behind the 75’ Tien Center library.

Phase 2

West flank of Observatry Hill. Climb the winding stairs from the rear of Haviland Hall to the ruin of the historic Students’ Observatory. All the nature areas along the way—home to native species such as Manzanita (Arctostaphylos densiflora); Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii); Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia); and the rare grass Trisetum canescens—will be wiped out when Phase 2 of the Tien Center is built. Phase 2, also 75’ tall, will tower over Haviland, obscure and trivialize it.


What you can do to save this unique nature area.

  1. Read the article Campus planning schizophrenia.

  2. Write a letter to the Berkeley Daily Planet:

  3. Write to the university:

  4. Watch for the 2020 LRDP Draft EIR and respond to it:

  5. Spread the word.



Copyright © 2004–2019 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.