by Stephen Kieran, FAIA
Permanence and Change
The physical history and substance of our buildings, campuses, and the cities or landscapes they form are products of the ever-shifting theoretical and practical sands in the debate about preservation and change - about which buildings or parts of buildings are to remain and which are to be altered or removed.
Left to the ravages of time, all structures will eventually eliminate themselves. The act of preservation, of establishing a building or place as a permanent fixture, is an ancient one. But fixing a building in time requires ongoing stabilization and occasional restoration, and has been granted without interruption to relatively few structures across the history of building. Far more historically prevalent than preservation are numerous acts of alteration and elimination, be they through neglect or intention. The most common way in which buildings are preserved across time is through ongoing use, supported by varying degrees of alteration from one generation to the next.
Although acts of preservation, alteration, and elimination are as ancient as architecture itself, the necessity for the very concepts described by these words is relatively new. Prior to the advent of historicist thought in the mid-nineteenth century, there is little recorded debate about which buildings to save, which to change, and which to eliminate. With historicism came a sense of the "otherness" of the past, an altogether new awareness of discontinuity with the present. The perception of a past no longer seen to be contained within the present was profound and has defined much architectural and urban discourse and action since. On the one hand, preservation - the previously inconceivable idea of a completed past except for a limited number of monuments - became credible. On the other hand, elimination of the past ironically became conceivable simply because it was now considered to be distinct and separate from the present. The two poles of this debate - preservation and elimination - were defined long ago and may be best identified with John Ruskin and Le Corbusier. Ruskin, the nineteenth-century English theorist, in such works as The Stones of Venice and The Seven Lamps of Architecture, advocated preservation not only of whole buildings and cities but even their patterns of wear and weather. Le Corbusier, the twentieth-century Swiss theorist and architect, in contrast, recommended wholesale elimination of the cities and buildings of the past. While these extremes mark the boundaries of the debate, it is the vast gray area that lies between which provides a more useful framework for critical thought and action. When mining the insecure terrain between theoretical poles - in this case, between preservation and the now largely discredited idea of elimination - the problem is how to construct a "gray" theory to order action in an apolar world. Such as it is, much criticism continues to devolve on polemical calls for preservation rather than the exercising of judgment about the degree of preservation and the extent of alteration. At Berkeley College, we sought a critical position for this debate based upon examination of the temporal cycles - both general to all buildings and particular to this building. The operational framework we developed belies the view underlying much modern theory that buildings belong to a particular time, and thus judgments about obsolescence are applied cataclysmically - all at once. Rather, we sought engagement with the full range of time cycles inherent in this structure, exploiting temporal differences as the basis for decisions about permanence and change. Toward this end, we have identified four bases for understanding and using time as a natural agent for continuity and change: programmatic, social, aesthetic and scientific.
Programming by Observation
Developing programs for new buildings, as well as for old ones undergoing a significant change in use, is an act of projection or, some would say, divination. Because the new building or use does not yet exist, it is projected into being - literally imaged - by reference to precedent amplified by experience. It is precedent which determines the initial projection of plan type, size, and character, with varying degrees of customization occurring during conception, largely through the envisioning of the owner and inhabitants in conjunction with the architect. At the start of planning in 1996, Berkeley College was neither a new building nor a building undergoing a dramatic change in use. It was completed in 1934 as a residential college, and it is to continue as a residential college. The sixty-two years between construction and renovation, however, provided us with an opportunity for another, more precise form of program - one of time and observation. Berkeley itself has, in fact, largely told the university and its architects what to keep the same and what to change. Like a landscape where one can read its use with great precision simply by observing patterns of wear, the physical fabric of Berkeley College in 1996 afforded a rich commentary on both the agreement and the disjunction between form and use that occur in all buildings over time. Rather than relying solely upon projection from similar circumstances elsewhere, we have programmed Berkeley anew partly upon the basis of established evidence of continuity and change within the college. Since the core institution of the residential college has changed little since its establishment at Yale, it is not surprising that most spaces have remained very stable in their functions. Hence, most student rooms from 1934 are still student rooms, bathrooms are still bathrooms, and faculty offices and housing still accommodate faculty. Similarly, the common room, dining hall, library, Swiss Room, and Master's House all still serve the same communal functions as were conceived at their opening.
The exceptions to this continuity, the spaces that have been subject to the greatest transformation in use since 1934, are generally below-grade basement support spaces that were not part of formal college life at the outset. Some were originally programmed and developed for recreational use such as squash and have since been used for basketball, weights and exercise, and table games. Other basement spaces were originally for building storage and support, and in more recent times have been transformed into a computer room, a student kitchen, a buttery, a woodshop, a print room, a TV room, and a darkroom. The pattern of continuity of function above, from the first floor up, and of discontinuity and change focused in under-utilized subterranean spaces, is well established and ongoing at Berkeley. The renovated Berkeley exploits this well-established pattern of sectional permanence and change, with few spaces above grade changing function but many subterranean transformations in use. In short, the ongoing use of the building suggests the most basic strategy for functional permanence and change. Despite significant transformations in student life, the dining hall is still used as the dining hall, the common room is still used as a lounge, and the library is still used for study. The overall pattern suggested adding new uses rather than significantly transforming old ones. Whereas this pattern reveals an important irony, representing a form of reverse archaeology in which it is typically the undercroft, the remains below, that are preserved and revealed as fixed and the changing building or city above that adapts to later exigencies, in this case, the opposite holds true: the building undercroft is adaptable to contemporary accommodation, whereas the walls and rooms above are relatively permanent.
Other existing patterns, such as the opening of secured doors between adjoining student residential suites to create new housing combinations, have proven similarly pervasive through time, suggesting the need for a broader array of housing options. The most powerful tool available to the architect in an existing building derives from careful scrutiny of actual use through time. Intervention need not rely solely on conceptual projections of users and prior typology. One can simply and powerfully intervene by basing decisions upon actual use, altering the building to support already established patterns.
Distinctions among public, service, and private spaces derive from changing beliefs over time about social structure and hierarchy. Beyond the level of furniture arrangement, change is least frequent in public spaces, such as the Berkeley dining hall, common room, and library, where necessary consensus among all users slows the process. Not coincidentally, these rooms are also aesthetically the most elaborate and highest-quality interior spaces in the original structure, having oak-paneled walls, ornamental wood and plaster ceilings, and custom-crafted leaded-glass windows. Adjoining service and support areas - such as the Berkeley servery, cloakroom, and rest rooms adjacent to the dining hall and common room, the typing and seminar rooms adjacent to the basement level of the library, and most of the basement level of the building - by contrast, are subject to more significant and frequent alterations than the public space they support. Lastly, private spaces - largely residential at Berkeley - are naturally subject to the greatest frequency of change, as each new inhabitant at a minimum refurnishes bedrooms and living rooms, and in many cases substantially redecorates interiors to reflect personal taste and use.
Generally, the level of finish is inversely related to the rapidity of change; in other words, the higher the degree, expense, and craftsmanship of the finish, the slower the rate of alteration both in past and present. Poised at construction in 1934 during a period of extraordinary transition in building technology, Berkeley possesses a coincident distinction relating to handcraft versus machine production, with restoration priority being assigned to handcrafted elements. The entire exterior of Berkeley College was at the outset accorded a refinement and quality befitting its position in the campus and the city. The walls are granite, sandstone, limestone, and brick; the roofs are slate and lead-coated copper; and the glazing is leaded-glass. As such, change in these elements has been as minimal as possible and derived first from the demands of life-cycle repair and, only where physically necessary, replacement. Integration of new building systems and present agendas for disabled access and trash removal also necessitated modest exterior alteration. Of the college's interiors, the dining hall, common room, and library have been given the most elaborate finishes, oak-paneled walls being coupled with patterned leaded-glass windows and ornamental wood and plaster ceilings. Again, the objective here was discrete intervention: for example, closing and opening new doors in the wood screen between the dining hall and the common room to comply with contemporary fire exit regulations and to improve circulation and use within and between the spaces. The Swiss Room, by contrast, originally came to Berkeley as a historical artifact; it is composed of wall and ceiling panels from two sixteenth-century Swiss Gothic interiors. As a result, the principal intervention here took the form of wood conservation and restoration, and the return of wall panels that had been removed from the space during prior alterations.
Building components do not age uniformly. Rather, there is tremendous range built into whole systems and into the materials that comprise those systems. Observation of total neglect in abandoned structures and of continuing intervention in attended to structures suggests the following ranking of building systems from greatest to least longevity: structure, walls and windows, roofs, systems, and finishes.1 Judicious choices of specific materials and quality can alter this ranking. However, this order also generally reflects the frequency of desire for change on the part of the inhabitants, regardless of a more scientific, material-based framework. A solid understanding of materials, science, and differential rates of degradation forms one basis for preservation and rational intervention. The paradox of preservation is that no building can remain the same without repairs and occasional replacements.
The Curatorial Responsibility
The North and South Courts: New Demands on the Cloistered Ideal
Like those of all Yale's residential colleges, the largest and arguably most important public spaces in Berkeley are outside, not inside; specifically, the North and South Courts. Entry to nearly all student rooms and college interiors is through these quadrangles. They are, in effect, the principal "common room" and door to the college, a place of passage, repose, congregation, performance, and play. As in the medieval monastic model these quadrangles emulate, they provide separation and security from the outside world. They transport the student from the city to a world of interiors that begins with the quadrangle itself, extends to the common room and Great Hall, and ultimately leads to private student quarters.
Among the residential colleges, Berkeley is exceptional in that its quadrangle is split into two halves around the axis of the Cross Campus, which extends from College Street to the Sterling Memorial Library. Both the North and South Courts continue to function today largely as intended in 1934. The central issues in the present renovation of the courts had to address needs that were ignored in 1934 - namely, accommodation for the disabled and the vexing problem of trash storage and removal. Site and building access today are matters of law and are taken for granted in planning new structures. In existing buildings of Berkeley's complexity, designing for disabled access becomes an art whose aim is maximum access by minimum means. Prior to the renovations completed in 1999, only the South Court in Berkeley was accessible. Inside this court, however, no student or common rooms were accessible to the disabled. The North Court and the adjoining Master's House fared even worse, having no access to the court or any of the adjoining public and private spaces, including the Master's House, an important public space in the life of the college. The criteria to which the renovated Berkeley was to be held accountable included access, first, to both North and South Courts, and second, to all places of public accommodation. In South Berkeley, these places of public accommodation include the common room, dining hall and servery, library, and Master's and Dean's Offices on the first floor, all student activity spaces and faculty offices throughout the basement, and the subbasement access to the multipurpose room. In North Berkeley, places of public accommodation include the first floor of the Master's House and basement-level student activity areas and faculty offices. In addition, several student rooms had to be made accessible.
Paths of access within the North and South Berkeley buildings are described below, in the sections on student housing and activity areas. On-grade access to the South Court continues to use the Elm Street entrance. A new stone ramp, however, extends this access along the west wall of the court up to the Master's and Dean's Offices. this ramp is positioned behind a low-site wall that forms a new edge to the South Court. At the top landing, a window has been converted into a door to the office suite. Access to the North Court is from the Cross Campus. The original steps at the wall separating the Cross Campus from North Berkeley have been removed and a new stone ramp inserted behind the Cross Campus wall. This ramp switches back at mid-level and arrives at the same point of entry to the North Court as the site stairs. Access to the Master's House is from the North Court. It was accomplished through regrading of the Master's House garden to eliminate steps between the court and the first floor of the house. Last, access to the basement-level game room, music room, shops, and faculty offices in Berkeley North is through a new door that replaced a window on the Blount Avenue side of the college.
Both the North and South Courts have been further refurbished and renovated and circulation clarified. The need for diagonal cross-court circulation to the ramp and stair in Berkeley South has been eliminated by returning to Rogers's original design, which provided a stair to the Cross Campus at the original gate. (This idea was suggested by a Berkeley student weary of the indirect access from north to south; only during construction did it become clear that Rogers, too, had had the same sensible instinct at the outset, with the original stair likely removed during construction of the Cross Campus library.) A further refurbishment of the courtyards simultaneously addresses bicycle storage and direction of pedestrians around the court perimeter. A fence of low granite posts with single metal rails provides locked bicycle storage as well as greensward boundary. The stone walks around both courtyard perimeters have long ago ceased to be flat enough to qualify as accessible and have been reset in the new work with a compacted gravel frame separating paving from lawn. New lighting from four lampposts in each courtyard has been provided, as well as refurbished and new plantings extending the spirit of Beatrix Ferrand's original landscape design. Courtyard and moat walls have also been repaired and rebuilt where necessary.
Finally, there is the critical test of the architect - aestheticizing trash. This problem was ignored altogether in the original design. Like all needs at Berkeley, it was solved over the years by the building users, who placed all the trash containers at the only place where they could be serviced - the principal public entry to Berkeley South from Elm Street and to Berkeley North from Wall Street. Day in and day out, the residents of Berkeley have been greeted by these containers as they come and go from the cloistered confines. One of the most important physical locations in the college, the passage from the city and campus beyond into the college interior, has been compromised daily by these ever-present containers that more properly would belong at the back door to the college, save for the fact that the original design has no back door. The renovations have added stone-walled trash enclosures at Berkeley North and South to alleviate this problem. At Berkeley North, the new enclosure is located along Wall Street at the east edge of the building, with access from the new entry located in the east facade. In Berkeley South, there are two enclosures, one for the kitchen and one for the rest of the college. The kitchen, as it did formerly, now makes use of the existing moat wall to screen the trash-holding area. A new holding area has been developed as an extension of existing stone site walls at the southwest corner of the college beyond the Elm Street gate to meet the needs of the South Berkeley residents. All the holding areas are accessible from the adjoining streets and have heavy wooden gates to screen them from public view.
Building Systems Renewal
One source for renewal at Berkeley was programmatic. Changing social structures and beliefs, sometimes reflected in use and occasionally in law, coupled with ongoing traditions and the extraordinary quality of the college exterior and much of the interior, formed the dialogue through which decisions about restoration and alteration had to be made. A second, less glamorous yet equally important source for renewal at Berkeley was curatorial and derived from the natural aging of building materials and systems. Although Berkeley College was built for the ages, the systems that comprise its fabric have been affected by exposure and wear, with each material and assemblage being subject to differing aging cycles. A large part of the work in a sixty-five-year-old structure involved, first, comprehension of its relative ages and, then, a plan for appropriate intervention in the aging cycles. The general objective was to return the inevitable degradation curve, to which all buildings are subject, to a condition and quality sufficient to extend through another major life-cycle renovation - in this case fifty to seventy-five years. The specific goals were to reuse, repair, and preserve first, replacing only where necessary to ensure another life cycle. The framework for understanding the building's systems was developed earlier and may be summarized in five basic categories: (1) structure (supporting members); (2) roofs (horizontal enclosure); (3) walls and windows (vertical enclosure); (4) systems (mechanical, electrical, fire protection, telecom); and (5) finishes (interiors).
Structure -The building structure, contrary to appearances, is a modern steel frame, not medieval bearing walls and roof vaults or trusses. It is in excellent condition. Like most structural systems that have been continuously enclosed and protected from weather, Berkeley's frame can last for hundreds of years with little intervention, provided the integrity of the roofs and walls are maintained.
Roofs - Roofs are another matter altogether. There are a number of roof types at Berkeley. The most typical is a steeply pitched gable roof of Vermont slate on a gypsum deck. This type comprises over 95 percent of the total roof surface. The slate and its underlying felts were of high quality at the outset and remain in excellent condition; with proper care its life cycle could easily extend for another sixty-five years. As a result, the slate has been retained in the renovation, only missing and broken pieces being replaced. The metal flashings that span the ridges and valleys and form the seams between roofs, chimneys, and parapets, however, were at the end of their useful life. A history of leaks and piecemeal repair could be read into the buildings, interior and exterior. Extension of the roof system through another fifty-plus years required complete replacement and, in some cases, reconfiguration of all metal flashings. To effect this replacement, approximately 20 percent of the roof slates required removal and reinstallation. In addition, all base flashings at the sixty-five chimney penetrations were repaired, and new lead-coated copper caps installed to prevent further water penetration through the chimney coping stones.
The most troubling conditions, however, were found at the 5 percent of roofs not included in the above description. As is so often the case in building systems, it is the exceptions that provide both opportunity and demand aesthetic quality - and 95 percent of the problems. There are three larger flat-roofed areas, one on either side of the Great Hall and one at a second-floor terrace of the Master's House. Not surprisingly, these have been the source of ongoing leaks, repairs, and replacements. Other exceptions include small flat roofs at balconies that extend along much of the fourth-floor perimeter. These small balconies with low parapets lend Berkeley much of its medieval character. They form a crenellated profile at the top of the perimeter walls, allowing the roof to be set back from and secondary to the wall. The balcony floors are terracotta tile, and each has a floor drain. They have failed repeatedly throughout the history of the building, probably beginning within a few years of the original construction. The issue with this aspect of the roofing system is conceptual: the balconies, although generally less than two feet wide, were conceived as exterior floors above occupied space. Given the excessive rate of failure of this system and the continual damage it has wrought to perimeter walls, windows, and interior finishes, redesign was warranted. Fundamental to the solution was the reconception of this portion of the horizontal enclosure system as a gutter, not a floor. Developed as a gutter with steeply canted sides and a narrow base, this new surface no longer invites access, with its attendant safety concerns and the ongoing prospect of puncturing the roof surface and obstructing the drains. Further, as a gutter it has been developed with a double membrane composed of a rubber roof as backup and lead-coated copper sheet as a primary roofing surface. Last, the drainage patterns have been redirected, with wall penetrations for overflow scuppers in the event that an internal drain obstruction occurs or heavy storm surge backs up water through the rainwater conductors.
Walls and Windows - Like the roof slate, the granite, limestone and sandstone of which Berkeley's exterior walls are constructed were materials of exceptional quality at the outset. The stone itself has generally remained in excellent condition, with the exception of a few areas at the parapets that have been damaged by water penetration and the movement from freeze-thaw cycles to which all parapet walls are subject. The cleaning of accumulated soot from all exterior walls with a pressurized water wash was done for both technical and cosmetic reasons. The sandstone in particular benefited from this cleaning, as its long-term durability is threatened by pollutants. The only area of significant deterioration in the walls, even more apparent subsequent to cleaning, was the pointing mortar between the stones, much of which was removed and replaced during the renovations.
In contrast to the ashlar stone walls, the windows at Berkeley have been far more problematic from the outset. Over 1,500 of the exterior windows are handcrafted leaded-glass set in mass-produced steel frames. In approximately a hundred ornamental windows associated with large-scale public spaces and stairs, the leaded-glass is set directly into the stone in the medieval manner. The juxtaposition of handcraft and mass production represented in the vast majority of the windows is the very substance of Berkeley. It is simultaneously medieval and modern, embodying an existence in both worlds. This double reference to the then contemporary 1934 technology of mass-produced steel window frames and medieval craft entails a special obligation. Along with the ashlar veneer masonry walls, the leaded-glass is responsible for much of the studied irregular quality of the exterior. As a handcrafted element, each pane of glass is slightly out of plane with respect to the others, thus reflecting a fragmentary mosaic of light to the exterior world. It is this quality, achieved through handcraft and machine histories, that is fragile and required extreme care to maintain as the approach to window refurbishment was developed.
A living history of attempts to improve thermal comfort in the small residential bedrooms and living rooms of Berkeley preceded this renovation. Both interior and exterior storm windows of varying types, qualities, times, and methods of attachment recorded the effort and emphatically confirmed the need to confront the problems posed by the windows. Many of these efforts had damaged stone surrounds, and all obscured the very fragmentary craft qualities Rogers so adamantly sought to retain. The steel frames had no weather stripping, the leaded joints had become weak and porous to air and water infiltration, the exterior glazing putty had degraded and required constant attention, and few windows closed tightly. It was determined at the outset that these difficult issues would have to be confronted or the pattern of periodic makeshift - and damaging - efforts at improvement would continue.
All options were developed for both the frames and the glazing. Window-frame approaches included: refurbishment and repair of the existing frames with the addition of weather stripping and new hardware; new exterior glazed steel frames matching the original frames in every respect but with integral weather stripping and hardware, and new interior glazed steel frames with a fixed steel glazing stop matching the profile of the original beveled glazing compound, again with integral weather stripping and hardware. Glazing options included removal and refurbishment of the existing leaded-glass; replacement of the integral leaded-glass units with double-glass-insulated panels with applied lead caming, an approach often used at Yale before this project; and last, a new leaded-glass panel matching the existing units, including the art glass, coupled with a vented interior protective glass panel within the depth of the glazing pocket. Reuse of the existing frames quickly proved to be problematic. The applied weather stripping was both unsightly and could not be reliably adhered to the existing frames. For long-term durability and ease of maintenance, interior glazed steel frames matching the exterior profiles of the existing windows were selected. With regard to glazing, tests determined that the thermal efficiency of the insulated and vented double-glazed units was similar. While the cost of the vented unit was significantly higher, the fact that the exterior panel could be a real leaded-glass unit, with fragmentary rather than unified reflections, coupled with the system's longevity compared to insulated glazed units whose seals fail after twenty years, resulted in the decision to install a vented system with real leaded-glass at the exterior. The result is improved thermal comfort inside the bedrooms and living rooms as well as retention of the all-important mosaic of reflections offered to the campus and the city by leaded-glass.
Systems - The Berkeley College of 1934 included one or two outlets and a recessed overhead light per room, a steam radiator per room, and plumbing for showers, sinks, and toilets in the entryway bathrooms. Public spaces had steam heat, a few outlets, and were generally underlit. This infrastructurally simple life has been continuously challenged by an exponential increase in electrical appliances, changing standards and beliefs about appropriate illumination, the introduction of telephones to student rooms, and data and power outlets for computers. As a result of year-round occupancy, administrative and faculty offices, Fellows' apartments, and the Master's House have long been air-conditioned by unsightly and damaging window units located in former leaded-glass openings. Lack of air conditioning and ventilation has compromised the use of public spaces, including the dining hall, common room, and library.
The renovations provided for the replacement of all building infrastructure and the introduction of new, fully integrated systems for fire protection and voice and data distribution. The continuous subbasement utility tunnels under both Berkeley North and South provide accessible horizontal distribution for all building systems from new and reused utility rooms located at this level. To minimize disruption of existing interiors and finishes, utility distribution has been clustered in existing and new risers that extend vertically from the subbasement through the five building levels above. Five types of utility risers repeat throughout the blocks of rooms that form Berkeley North and South: (1) electrical power, telephone, and data; (2) hot and chilled water for heating and cooling; (3) plumbing supply and waste risers for bathrooms; (4) ventilation ducts in bathrooms; and (5) fire protection piping and alarms. The risers are located in accordance with three criteria: first, positioning within newly built walls; second, positioning to minimize horizontal piping and wiring (even with this objective, the renovated Berkeley contains over ten miles of electrical conduit); third, positioning to provide ready access and rational locations for plant managers to find shutoff controls and panels. Given these criteria, plumbing, ventilation, and fire protection risers are clustered together at the new bathroom head walls located at each entryway. In the stair elevation of these walls, a new painted metal channel contains the fire-alarm pull station, strobe light, and a convenience outlet, an aesthetic manifestation of the new systems organization. Electric power, telephone, and data outlets are located in new chases perpendicular to the perimeter walls and between pairs of rooms. The pairing of adjoining rooms to a single vertical power, telephone, and data chase minimizes bending of conduit, a condition to be avoided given the required radii of at least one foot at any bend. Last, heating risers and, where required, chilled water risers, are located in new and expanded existing chases parallel to the building perimeter walls, with several radiators extending horizontally at each floor from a single riser. Each new and replaced building system becomes an identifiable and integrated design element in the renovated Berkeley, joining basic interior features such as doors, fireplace, and windows as predictable forms.
Finishes - Renewal of interior finishes was a central component of the renovation objectives. While much of the patina was judged to be not only acceptable but a desirable manifestation of the aging process Rogers so ardently sought to include in Berkeley at the outset, the general buildup of soot, dirt, and accumulated cleaning and refinishing materials throughout the interior was neither technically nor aesthetically desirable. In the large public spaces - the dining hall, common room, and library - the principal finishes include oak wainscoted walls and wood or ornamental plaster ceilings. The wood was dry and had years of wax buildup. It had to be cleaned of all finishes and restored with oil stains. Similarly, wide-plank oak floors in these spaces were to be refinished, returning them from their present opaque, nearly black surface, through which it was nearly impossible to see any wood grain, to a lighter tone that reveals the natural wood. Limestone surrounds at windows and doors in these great public spaces, as well as in all residential rooms, had been darkened with soot and had to be cleaned. All plaster in student rooms and faculty apartments was restored and skim-coated with new plaster. The white pine fireplace surrounds in student rooms had to be cleaned of paint and other finishes and either repainted or restored to a light, natural finish consistent with the use of this material at the time of construction. Stone and brick fireplace surrounds were also to be restored, along with the oak floors. The sixteenth-century walls and ceilings of the Swiss Room, although not deemed to be of museum quality at the time of their installation in 1934, demanded special attention in the renovations. Badly damaged and deteriorating wood was stabilized, and all finishes removed and replaced with a new light-wax finish.
Housing The College
At the college opening in 1934, there were two basic accommodations for students: stand-alone single rooms and double suites. A single room was typically rather large by today's standards - about fifteen by fifteen feet. Each had a fireplace, most often located in the entry wall, with windows in an adjoining wall. In corner rooms, which include many of the college's singles, windows are on two walls. Double suites include a living room and two small bedrooms. There are two basic configurations for these double suites in Berkeley. The first arrangement is en suite, the three rooms being aligned along either the interior courtyard wall or the exterior street walls. The entrance to the suite is into the living room. Both bedrooms are accessed off a short corridor opposite the suite entry. The second arrangement is organized laterally, each suite extending from the interior courtyard, which the living rooms face, out to the street walls where the bedrooms are located. Again, the suite entry is into the living room, but in this case the bedrooms open directly into the living room without any hallway. Most two-bedroom suites in Berkeley, although intended for two students in the 1934 design, now house three or four sophomores or juniors, only seniors being assured of single bedrooms.
Both singles and suites are arranged around stair landings in a vertical entryway system. Each of the eight student entryways - five in Berkeley South and three in Berkeley North - opens to the courtyard or to a covered passage from the courtyard to the street. The most common configuration provides a stair landing at each level accessing four suites or singles and a shared bathroom. This configuration is typical of the residential colleges at Yale and provides a smaller, more intimate "community" around each landing than the conventional double-loaded corridor affords. Through the four levels of the building that contain student housing, each entryway provides access to as many as sixteen singles and suites. The only connections between vertical entryways exist at the basement level, where a corridor and tunnel link all entryways in both North and South Berkeley.
New Program - The new housing program at Berkeley began with several objectives: fire safety, assignment of a single student to the smallest bedrooms, increased flexibility of suite configuration, better bathrooms, and accessibility for the disabled. Paramount among these is student safety in the event of fire. The vertical entryway system is based on a single path of access to and egress from student rooms. While this system has many social benefits because of its fragmentation of living units into small groups, it does not comply with contemporary standards that require a second exit from all housing units. The obvious solution would have been to connect each entry stairway to the next through a corridor. However, this would have required total reconfiguration and resulted in a significant loss of bed space, with the already small rooms becoming even smaller. The alternative agreed upon with city and state officials for second egress was to provide alarmed doors through an adjoining suite or suites to the next entryway. In addition to life safety and code compliance, this system of alarmed doors between suites has two benefits. First, it allows for flexibility in suite sizes and configurations and, second, it creates the mechanism through which occupancy in the small bedrooms may be uniformly decreased from two students to a single student - without losing bed count.
Combinations and Permutations - Flexibility is achieved by turning door alarms on or off to combine separate rooms, or rooms formerly associated with one suite to another. Specifically, by this method, a bedroom or pair of bedrooms may be reassigned to an adjoining suite by leaving the alarm off. Similarly, a single room or living room may be combined with another suite. Transfers of rooms from one suite to another introduce an altogether new aspect of choice into the Berkeley housing program. The single rooms and double suites of the 1934 building can now be combined and recombined not only into singles and doubles, but also into triples and suites for four, five, six, and even, in one case, eight students. The flexibility afforded by this program allows for a greater choice in the number of suite mates with whom a student may choose to live. The housing mix may be set by the Dean of the college each year prior to room draw, based upon such factors as the overall demand for housing and the number of seniors in the draw, each of whom is promised access to either a single room or a single bedroom in a suite. Also, if it is known in advance that a few large groups of students wish to live together, the Dean can alter the room mix to accommodate these requests. In total, nineteen different suite configurations are made available by this program, resulting in many more combinations. The base count is the maximum housing load of two hundred and thirty-two, with additional configurations possible as the demand in any given year falls short of this maximum. Typically, as the housing count in any given year is lower, more of the larger bedrooms for two students may be detached from large suites and converted to single rooms.
The Mathematics of the Ideal Bedroom - The most important benefit of flexible configurations, however, is lowering the number of occupants of student bedrooms. When Berkeley College opened in 1934, it was designed to accommodate approximately one hundred and sixty students. The population has increased to over two hundred and twenty today largely by adding a second student to many of the small bedrooms, which range in size from 95 to 120 square feet. These small bedrooms, which contain bunk beds, dressers, desks, and chairs for two students, in many cases are simply not furnishable. By reconfiguring alarmed doors between suites and loading more rooms, including larger single rooms, on to one living room, it becomes possible to ensure that two students do not have to be housed in one small bedroom. The only bedrooms housing two students in the new arrangement are former stand-alone singles, which are more than twice the size of the small bedrooms, permitting the elimination of bunk beds that are part of the maximum housing configuration. The mathematical sleight-of-hand inherent in the shift of density from bedrooms to living rooms - in the new scheme more bedrooms are typically loaded on to a single living room - allows all students up to the count of 232 in the base housing scheme to be accommodated in conventional floor-mounted beds. Though students may choose to bunk their beds in order to expand open floor area and enhance arrangement of furniture, this is no longer required. The shifting of the highest densities in the housing program from student bedrooms to common living rooms, with a concomitant increase in the space allocated to bedrooms, is consistent with broader social patterns in housing that today assign a higher priority to privacy than did prior generations.
Furnishing and Lighting - With the increase in space allotted to bedrooms, opportunities to develop new furnishing systems arise. The furnishing program includes a bed, dresser, desk, and chair for each student, and a combined wardrobe/dresser for all rooms that do not have a built-in closet. While beds have been selected to be "bunkable," it is not envisioned that many students in the large bedrooms will choose this option. To provide additional storage, the floor-mounted beds are set upon pedestals that allow for flexible use of the space below. Desks and dressers are the same height, so larger continuous work surfaces can be formed by placing these two pieces of furniture together.
Inadequate lighting has been a problem in student rooms from the outset. Living rooms and bedrooms used to be provided with a single low-wattage, fully recessed fixture that never gave adequate light for reading. In recent years, portable high-intensity fixtures have been used by students for both general illumination and reading light. The fire hazards associated with these fixtures, however, are well documented, and they have been banned. The new lighting solution in the bedrooms and living rooms addresses these problems in two ways. First, a high-output, surface-mounted overhead fixture of substantial diameter (twenty inches) and shallow depth spreads light across the ceiling and down into the rooms. Second, soft fluorescent uplights are provided as part of the room furnishings. These fixtures project light onto the ceilings, which in turn reflect it down into the room. Within a five-foot radius, this reflected light is ample for reading.
Accessible Housing - Prior to renovations, no housing in Berkeley College was accessible to the disabled. The barriers to accessibility were substantial. The vertical entryway system was the most significant impediment, followed by inaccessible bathrooms and showers and inadequate dimensional clearances at doors and within spaces. The university plan for the residential colleges, as a whole, called for some accessible space in each college. Further, the same opportunity for alternative housing configurations in singles and suites had to be available to all students.
The solution to the problem posed by the vertical entryway was to extend the new passenger elevator from the main entry level at the common room and dining hall to the second floor. From the new elevator lobby at this upper level, several rooms have become accessible, including a stand-alone single room and two suites with living rooms and bedrooms. A new oversize bathroom with accessible fixtures and showers accommodates disabled students at the landing between units.
Bathrooms - Each entryway landing level was provided with a bathroom in the original design, and in the renovated building most bathrooms remain in the same location, but with completely new systems, finishes, and fixtures. Changes to bathrooms include new mechanical exhaust systems, new lighting and power appropriate to contemporary demands for bathroom appliances, and new stainless steel toilet and shower partitions. A removable corrosion-resistant metal ceiling system provides a way to access and repair plumbing in each bathroom above. Floors and walls are completely tiled, and large mirrors extending the full length and height of the sink wall expand the apparent size of the room. Last, countertops and stainless steel shelves below the mirrors, along with new recessed shelf units at the bathroom entries and wall hooks around the bathrooms, accommodate student bath accessories.
The Dining Hall: From Table Service To Self-Service
The Berkeley dining hall was designed as a full-service hall, with white-clad waiters delivering food from a plating pantry to neatly aligned banquet tables. Everything about this hall and its use bespoke the singular culture of residential college life in 1934. Meals were served family style, with all students seated at the same time, at the same table, and provided the same meal by the same waiter. Food preparation took place out of view, in the first-floor and basement-level kitchens and storage areas. The pantry was a staging area, completed meals being delivered from there to tables. Dishes were returned by the waiter from tables to the pantry upon conclusion of the meal. The distinction between public space and service space was unequivocal: The Great Hall was public; the pantry and adjoining kitchen areas were entirely dedicated to service of the college community.
Although table service ceased more than thirty years ago, only modest changes were made to the dining halls and kitchens at that time. The former pantries were redeveloped as cafeteria-style serving lines. From the beginning of self-service, these pantries were too small. They had been designed for a limited number of waiters to pick up food and return dishes, not for the entire population of the college to enter, browse in, and select their meals. The circulation and food delivery problems created by the designation of the small service pantries as public food serveries were further compounded by the need for a tray-and-dish-return and dishwashing room, both accessible to students and Fellows upon leaving the dining hall. As food offerings diversified from the 1970s onward, the servery began to expand from the pantry into the Great Hall, co-opting seating space. By 1996, when design work commenced for the renovations, the Berkeley servery encroached upon nearly 25 percent of the Great Hall. Additional area needed for lining up during mealtime further consumed the hall, with the combination of a cafeteria-style line and the small servery size forcing students to back up at peak times from the servery to the entry at the middle of the hall. The congestion in the dining hall was not only an inconvenience for diners waiting for a lunch with limited time between classes but an impediment to those trying to leave. Between the expansion of the servery and the lining up in the Great Hall, nearly half the hall was being used for nondining functions.
The program for a contemporary food service clearly demanded significant expansion and transformation of the servery. In addition to increased size, reconfiguration was also important. To disperse diners immediately upon entering, a large, wide space capable of supporting several separate food service stations is ideal. There were two ways in which one could obtain this additional space. First, by expanding backward into the kitchen and food preparation areas, moving these functions down into the basement to permit expansion of the servery in that direction, and second, by working forward toward the Great Hall into the vaulted alcove between the pantry and the dining hall itself. The new Berkeley servery makes use of both tactics. The objective was to maximize the public space available to students for the delivery of food. The renovations represent a nearly fourfold increase in the area dedicated to food presentation. The space has both ample width and breadth to permit a central island within the servery with two double-sided counters. The island is critical to the transformation from a cafeteria-style line to a scramble system in which diners enter the servery and move randomly rather than sequentially to select their meals. Further, openings to the Great Hall had to be expanded to allow for unimpeded flow between the servery and the hall. Toward this end, a stairway to student rooms above has been reconfigured to double the opening width.
In addition to the island, goals included a display cooking alcove, borrowed from restaurant design and bringing a portion of food preparation into the view of and direct contact with the students. A part of what was once an entirely private, behind-the-scenes function - food preparation - is now, like the family kitchen, a public room in which diners may establish not only a visual but an actual relationship with the chef.
The remaining two walls of the servery are lined from floor to ceiling with food, ranging from condiments to soup to a full deli and ice-cream bar. The wall surface above the counters at the perimeter is a flexible glass shelving system, with the shelf standards set flush with the plaster face. This system transforms the wall into a display and storage system. The counters throughout are purple slate with inset stainless steel glides. Integrally colored plywood panels form the counter faces below the tray slides. To reinforce the scramble system in which diners move at will across the servery from one food of choice to another, plates are distributed throughout at the ends of the island and along counters below the tray rail, allowing for selections to be made as one proceeds.
There is a breakfast and beverage area at the entry to the servery. In addition to providing hot and cold beverage service, this area focuses around a central island used during the morning as a breakfast bar for the display of cereal, fruit, bread, and other baked goods for Continental breakfast. Owing to its location in the alcove under the twin wood vaults at the east end of the dining hall, it can be separated from the remainder of the servery. By closing the blackened-steel-clad doors, the breakfast bar can remain open for extended hours without disrupting preparation for the luncheon meal. This ability to accommodate extended breakfast hours is an important aspect of adapting the Berkeley dining hall to the flexible and longer hours favored by contemporary students.
A further programmatic problem at Berkeley revolved around the Swiss Room, located in a second-story suite above the servery and kitchen. The Swiss Room is composed of wall and ceiling paneling from two sixteenth-century Swiss Gothic rooms. It serves principally as a Fellows' dining room - an annex to the Great Hall - yet it has no direct connection. To reach the Swiss Room, one must exit through the dining hall to the common room. From there, one proceeds into an adjoining secured entryway stair to the second floor, past student rooms and a bathroom to the Swiss Room.
Throughout the renovation of Berkeley College, it is the alteration of service spaces that has made it possible to restore public space. In the case of the dining hall, the expansion and complete reconfiguration of the servery have enabled its restoration as Great Hall in the Oxford-Cambridge tradition. With the expansion of the new servery, all food can be eliminated from the Great Hall, restoring the space to its original, uncluttered grandeur as a banquet hall once again, filled with tables accommodating the assembled college. The great hammer beam ceiling, the high trellised windows along Elm Street, the fine wood paneling, and the carved-wood screen separating the dining hall from the common room - all contribute to the participation of this space in the ongoing tradition of medieval Great Halls, filtered through the English residential college to its American version at Yale. The Great Hall and its adjoining common room are clearly exceptional public spaces. They were afforded high priority for restoration, with the service spaces to the east end providing opportunities for necessary change and expansion to address the new servant/served relationship that has evolved since 1934.
As a result, there are only two significant changes inside the dining hall itself. First, the entry from the common room was relocated from the center of the hall to the end nearest the servery. The central entry was a valid approach in 1934, when students entered and proceeded directly to their tables without any check-in procedure. With the change to self-service, however, the central entry compromised the Great Hall. The quarter of the room between the check-in desk and the servery was difficult to furnish owing to circulation patterns through it from the entry to the new public servery. This circulation, coupled with the presence of lines during portions of the meal between the check-in desk and the servery, rendered this area the least desirable in the hall for seating. By relocating the entry from the common room to the servery end of the Great Hall, any lines that may form will extend into the common room rather than compromise seating in the Great Hall. Exiting after the meal is through the same door, with a movable paneled wood screen containing a tray drop-off area just to the left of the exit. When the hall is used as an assembly and performance space, the wood screen can be slid back against the wall to provide an unobstructed hall.
The second change is the addition of a small thirty-seat balcony in the alcove to the Great Hall above the expanded servery. The balcony fulfills a number of functions. First, it provides direct access from the dining hall to the Swiss Room. Owing to the balcony, it is no longer necessary to leave the dining hall and proceed through the common room and into an entryway stair to gain access to this important space that is programmatically an annex to the dining hall. A new stair provides access to the balcony. This stair, like its companion at the west end of the Hall, occupies former service spaces - in this case a telephone booth and a portion of an entry vestibule. From the intermediate landing, three simultaneous new views are provided. One is up, a far view through a slotted dormer to the sky above. A second contrasting eye-level view is out toward the wooden ceiling and beams of the Common Room and across its length. The third is an intimate, near view through the new stair balusters to the vestibule alcove a half-flight below. Again, at the top of the stair, multiple vignettes are presented. One is over the balcony rail to the ceiling and space of the Great Hall. A second presents an altogether new, foot-level relationship to an existing Gothic traceried window at the exterior wall of the balcony alcove.
As the Swiss Room is not large enough to accommodate all the college Fellows during their regular dinners, the balcony affords needed seating. Similarly, unlike other Yale colleges, Berkeley has no private dining room for groups or seminars as part of its dining hall. The balcony serves to accommodate these groups as well. During mealtime when it is not being used for special events, it provides a different, more intimate dining environment, with its smaller tables tucked just below the wood vaults of the alcove. Last, and perhaps most important, it is the balcony which provides a ceiling for the expanded breakfast and beverage servery below, aesthetically containing, screening, and integrating this transitional alcove between the Great Hall and the food servery beyond.
The remaining renovations to the Great Hall involved the installation of new building systems within the restored interior. As these alterations had to be inserted within the fabric of the hall - not in service spaces to the side or below - the design objective was to conceal the systems. Ventilation and air conditioning were special challenges, as they were not provided for in the original design. Encouraging the discrete installation of the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems was the fact that the wood paneling beneath the great windows along Elm Street was already pocketed out to permit the passage of heated air from floor-mounted radiators to the top of the paneling. New floor openings were created behind the existing paneling to install air conditioning and ventilation supply ductwork from air handlers located in the building subbasement. Return air ductwork was installed beneath a new bench at the common room side of the dining hall. Similarly, rather than adding new lighting independent of the existing fixtures, the principle of building systems integration concealed within the established features of the Great Hall suggested continued reliance upon chandeliers. As formerly configured, the chandeliers provided illumination in the central zone of the Great Hall, leaving both ceiling and floor dimly lit. The objective of alterations in lighting was to add modest amounts of illumination to both the wooden ceiling and the floor, softening the rather harsh contrast of the old systems. Toward this end, additional down- and uplight was added to the fixtures. The downlight provides pools of light at tables and the uplight illuminates the wood ceiling with a soft glow, retaining the appropriate underlit quality of the space but averaging it across the section of the Great Hall.
Student Life In Parallel Worlds: From Secular Monasticism Above To Opportunities Below
The model for student life at Berkeley, like everything else about the college in 1934, was based on the secularization of monastic life first incorporated at Oxford and Cambridge. However, the Yale residential colleges, and Berkeley in particular, significantly transferred the tradition of English residential colleges into a far more secular realm. The refectory or dining hall attained elevated status in the residential college, effectively assuming the central role and form of chapel. The common room at Berkeley was reinterpreted as an expanded narthex extending the full length of the dining hall, providing not only entry but a gentlemen's lounge. Before and after meals and at other times, the common room was the locus for the social life of the college beyond the dining hall. Club lounge furnishings were the setting for small group gatherings, piano playing, newspaper reading, casual conversation, and similar activities. Then, as now, the Master's House and garden were a secondary center for an even more formal social life, by invitation of the college Master, including regular teas and occasional dinners and parties. A music room was also located in North Berkeley for practice and small recitals.
While these social spaces and most of the functions they serve have remained largely intact from 1934 to the present, new activities began to find their way into underoccupied basement space shortly after the college opened its doors. This appropriation of the subterranean, which transformed basement support space and storage rooms into usable social and activity space, escalated after World War II and continued unabated through the 1960s and 1970s. At the start of the renovation design in 1996, a full accounting of basement activity spaces not present in 1934 included the following: (1) social space: buttery, lounge and TV room, game room; (2) study: computer room; (3) student services: laundry, student kitchen, vending; (4) recreational: game room, weight and exercise room, basketball/squash; and (5) shops: darkroom, wood shop, music practice room. In some cases, these uses replaced other similar earlier ones. For example, one of the two squash courts and the spectator gallery above it have long been used as a weight and exercise room. The other squash court has been used for basketball more than squash during much of the last thirty years. Similarly, the student aides room identified in the 1934 drawings has been transformed into a game room. More frequently, however, storage and other support rooms were replaced by student activities.
Because there was only a limited conception of recreational student life within the residential college in 1934, the basement spaces into which these activities found their way were typically separated from corridors by opaque brick walls. The activity spaces were located opportunistically, one by one, as demand for accommodation became more important than basement support functions and low use recreational areas in the 1934 building. Because of this approach - after the fact, activity by activity - the informal aspects of student life were never built around a coherent vision. Whereas the rooms upstairs grew out of a secularized monastic tradition, the basement evolved gradually after World War II as a subterranean encampment, an ad hoc counterpoint to the carefully conceived ideal of the cloistered world above.
The comprehensive renovations presented an opportunity for an alternative vision to the concept of student activities within the residential college. The idea was not to supplant the formal spaces above, the dining hall and common room as 1934 club, but rather to supplement the original social structure with a parallel concept - that of the grotto club as an alternative center for social life. Central components of the basement reorganization evolved from the dual concepts of "grotto club" and "student activity center," reinterpreted for the contemporary residential college.
The Student Activity Center
Replacing the dispersed and opportunistic locations that had evolved one by one, the alterations draw together all possible social functions into two concentrated areas - one in Berkeley South and one in Berkeley North. The definition of "social" used here is broad. It includes the coming together of more than two people in any activity within five categories of social space: recreation, lounge and snacks, quiet study, student services, and shops. All are encompassed by the two activity centers.
At Berkeley South, the activity center was made accessible through a new stair and elevator lobby located in the entry vestibule to the common room and dining hall. It replaces a coat room and bathrooms. A new skylight floods this space with daylight, providing a tangible connection between the formal lounge activity spaces of the secular cloister above and the new subterranean activity center below. At the base of this stair, under the dining hall and common room, are several new activity spaces: a lounge and buttery, a two-story multipurpose room, a student kitchen, a laundry, and an exercise and weight room. The lounge is under the common room, providing a directly parallel, vertically stacked comparison between the formal conception of social life in 1934 and its contemporary subterranean manifestation. These stacked activity spaces from two times - 1934 and 1999 - are revealed in sectional windows in the side wall of the new stairway as it connects the club lounge above to the basement grotto below. At the top landing, a small window the size of one wood panel in the dining-hall wainscot opens to the stair, providing a porthole from the new stair through to the historic dining hall. At the base of the stair, a narrow vertical slot window provides a parallel view into an altogether different world - that of the 1999 multipurpose room. Both openings are underscaled. The opening to the dining hall is a viewport; the opening to the multipurpose room is a half-width door. They are not conventional windows. They do not connect, as windows would, so much as they disconnect, by providing a glimpse of another world. The viewport - like the construction-fence porthole - reinforces the "otherness" of the space beyond. As a window, it is the size of a face and allows for positioning of the eyes to see beyond but holds the body in abeyance as an outsider, invited to view but not to enter. At the base of the stairway, the physical encounter with yet another unconventional window - this one a half-width door seven feet high but only a foot and a half wide, provides views into the multipurpose room at mid-level but does not permit entry. The contrasting openings simultaneously reveal divergent histories and the ongoing vitality of each environment - the gentlemen's club of 1934 and the subterranean grotto of 1999.
Like the common room, the basement-level activity-center lounge is a long, relatively narrow room - a widened corridor - that provides access to adjoining activity spaces: the multipurpose room, exercise room, laundry, and student kitchen. The north wall of the activity center is the original brick and sandstone courtyard wall, but with modifications. Three alcoves beneath the common room, bay windows that were closets in the 1934 building, have been opened to the new activity-center lounge. Two of these alcoves have built-in benches and movable tables. The third is lined with sound-absorbing panels and is used for video games. Also along this wall at both ends are basement window wells. Both wells have been modified to lower their sills to seating height. The windows have been removed and replaced by skylights at the top of the wells, engaging each opening as a day-lighted seating niche. What was an opaque masonry wall has become a deep wall penetrated by niches and alcoves, providing spaces for intimate occupancy, and again highlighting - by direct vertical comparison with the common room bay-window alcoves above - the parallel historic and contemporary worlds. In addition to the alcoves, the lounge provides casual tables and chairs and a small buttery and snack bar with stool seating. A television cabinet is built into the wall overlooking the multipurpose room.
The opposite wall separating the corridor from the adjoining squash courts, storage closets, and kitchen has been removed except where it is part of the building structure, and the new spaces beyond opened to the lounge. The largest of these spaces is the two-story multipurpose room that has replaced the squash courts. The squash courts were undersized by present standards and are incompatible with the social program; squash does not bring groups of students together. Further, a squash court is limited to one use and thus does not provide adequate breadth of function for a residential college. The new multipurpose room is made visible to the lounge above through a glass wall. It is entered by two stairways, one under the top landing of the stairway from the common room and the other on the side opposite, between the multipurpose room and the adjoining laundry and kitchen. It has several uses. It can be configured as a black-box theater, with entries at the corners and theatrical lighting bars overhead. Three side walls have sound-absorbing material between horizontal wood slats to enhance acoustical performance for theater, music, film, and lectures. The other principal uses are recreational - basketball, dance, and aerobics. A retractable basketball hoop accommodates late-night pickup games, with the wood wainscoting providing appropriate armor for recreational use. The wood panels on the wall opposite the basketball hoop are doors that open to form a mirrored wall for dance and aerobics. When fully opened to the mirrored position under the glass windows to the lounge above, the view from the new multipurpose room is fully transparent, simultaneously reflecting activities in the room below and transparency to the café above. Overhead athletic lighting between the theater bars illuminates recreational activities and also provides appropriate lighting for lectures and music.
Another component of the south activity center is an exercise room located at the east end, in former kitchen space. It is mirrored on all sides and contains both exercise machines and free weights. Last, between the exercise and multipurpose rooms are two service spaces - a laundromat and a kitchen in which students may prepare their own food. The adjacency of these high-use service spaces to both recreational and lounge activity areas allows students to engage in other social activities while they do their laundry or prepare food, creating additional opportunities for social interaction.
Next to the south activity center along the High Street side of Berkeley is the college library. The main reading room is at the first level. The alterations have expanded the existing library at the lower level, appropriately transforming the former typing room and adjoining hallway into a computer room. Again, the adjacency of this study space to the south activity center enhances opportunities for social encounters. Students may easily go back and forth from the activity center, with its lounge areas and recreational opportunities, to the library. The library, like all prerenovation basement spaces, is not open to the corridor. To provide a visual presence for the library at the basement level, two new openings in the brick wall between the corridor and the library were created. These openings, like that from the new stairway to the multipurpose room, are the proportion of half-width doors. They are body-sized alcoves that invite visual not actual entry, consistent with the new transparency of basement activities.
The North Activity Center
Whereas most of the large-scale public spaces in the college have always been concentrated in the basement of Berkeley South, the Berkeley North basement has been the location for workshops, and game, TV, and music rooms. In recent years the workshops have included a darkroom, a wood shop, and a print shop. As in the Berkeley South basement, all these activities used to take place behind opaque brick walls along the north and east corridors. The renovations have concentrated the shops along the north corridor. The new wall separating the shops from the corridor is glass and blackened steel, permitting full view of shop activities by passersby. The walls separating one shop from the next are simply built flexible partitions. They recognize the fact that student interests are cyclical, and thus that the shops should allow for easy alteration at frequent intervals. Toward this end, the north perimeter wall is a flexible mechanical and electrical chase extending the full length of the shops. It contains heating and air-conditioning ductwork as well as shop ventilation, electric power distribution, and plumbing for sinks. This service distribution system enables change in the functions and boundaries of shops without major renovations.
Music practice and performance, both vocal and instrumental, have always been central activities in the college. Although a music room in Berkeley North has always existed, it is not acoustically insulated from the student and faculty residences above. The new North Activity Center includes an additional music chamber large enough for a small group and capable of fully insulating the sound of percussion and amplified instruments from residences. Coupled with the new multipurpose space in Berkeley South, the two practice rooms in Berkeley North will provide the college with a full range of music performance and practice space.
A last feature of the North Activity Center is the game and TV room. As a public space, the center is required to be accessible to the disabled. A new on-grade door from the Cross Campus walk provides this access. Once inside, there is a further grade change between the east and north basements. Rather than building a ramp spatially removed from the activity center, the alterations have integrated the ramp with the new game room. In fact, the ramp is a furniture element inside the game room, with a built-in bench separating it from the room. As students move up or down the ramp, they do so in the game room, interacting with other students who may be playing ping-pong or billiards, watching TV, preparing a meal, or relaxing around a table. This understanding of the ramp as a new element in the North Berkeley basement is formally established by its contrast with the existing paneled finishes of two former faculty offices. While the ramp walls are new, the existing white-pine paneling of the north, south, and east walls, along with the two fireplaces at the north and south walls, have been retained, integrated with new spaces and finishes by the continuous bar rail.
The Architecture of Renewal at Berkeley College
The renovations to Berkeley College are the product of choices made across the ever-shifting grounds between permanence and change, between what to restore to an earlier condition and what to alter to suit present, evolving, and anticipated needs. The theoretical grounds for these choices, which have been described in earlier sections, are fourfold: observation of prior use; hierarchical distinctions between public and private spaces; aesthetic distinctions drawn largely between handcraft- and machine-formed building elements; and materials science, which reveals the differential conditions and ages of building elements and provides a further rational framework for intervention.
The first proposition derives from observation of actual use. Like the geologist who examines erosion in order to understand prior forces, the architect of renewal observes patterns of wear, reading actual intention, use, and need in the eroded form of the building as it has come to present itself through time. This erosion has been a key guide to intervention at Berkeley. Unlike the natural landscape, where many of the most significant features of the earth's surface are products of erosion, the unplanned wearing away and altered use of unnatural artifacts like buildings are only occasionally picturesque and useful. Study of actual use revealed erosion at all levels of Berkeley and guided intervention. Window surrounds reflected a history of efforts to secure small student rooms from the elements. On a larger scale, the underground occupation by generations of students over time as they used the Berkeley basement, one new activity space at a time, showed a form of programmatic erosion that told the renovators there was need for an entire category of space not accommodated in the original structure.
Another ground for judgment about change and permanence is the position of building components along a spectrum of use from public to private, with the most public aspects of an institution generally exhibiting the greatest permanence and the most private spaces often the products of near continuous change. At Berkeley, certainly the building exteriors are its most public and therefore immutable aspect. Somewhere further along the public-private continuum fall the major halls of the interior, the library, commons, and dining rooms - all rooms of exceptional quality well fixed in the memories of alumni, and only slightly more subject to change than the exteriors. At the opposite end of this spectrum are the most private spaces: student rooms, and basement-level service areas. These spaces are subject to personalization, by each individual occupant in the case of student rooms and by annexation for alternative uses at the building service level.
Aesthetic differences in quality of building elements also guide the renewer, with components and areas of exceptional quality assigned higher priority for permanence. Typically, these elements parallel the public-private distinctions described above, with higher-quality components and finishes generally being found in the most public spaces. Quality at Berkeley also generally coincides with handcrafted rather than mass-produced forms.
Materials science informs the renewer of expected longevity, differing durations of materials and assemblages becoming predictable factors with finite ranges for longevity. Arranged from most to least durable are the structure, its walls, its roof, its plumbing, its mechanical and electrical systems, and its interiors. Within each of these categories further hierarchies exist. For example, the slate roofing at Berkeley is twice as durable (likely at least a hundred and thirty years) as the metal flashings in the ridges and valleys and at the eaves between these planes (at best sixty-five years). Overall, Berkeley may in this way be seen as a collection of materials and systems, some of which (such as the balcony roofs) fail within the first several years of occupancy and others that may not fail for several hundred years (the structural frame). A pattern of intervention has been arranged that utilizes repair, reconstruction, and replacement to keep the structure in a state of scientific equilibrium. All three tactics have been utilized in the Berkeley renovations.
These four principles have guided decisions, both large and small, throughout the design and construction process at Berkeley. General building system renovations as well as alterations and renovations to student rooms, the dining hall, and student activity spaces are all products of these pervasive propositions. A summary view of both the old and the new Berkeley College, however, may be best achieved by examining the four principles at work on a single building element: windows.
The term "window" here includes any opening in a wall, be it interior or exterior. Application of the four principles to exterior windows suggests organization into two basic types: totally handcrafted leaded-glass windows set directly into stone surrounds and leaded-glass windows set in mass-produced steel frames. The former represent a completely medieval aesthetic and technology, while the latter are a hybrid, simultaneously medieval and modern. When the windows were subjected to the scrutiny of the four principles, differences emerged that suggested the two exterior window categories and resulted in different renovation strategies. First, observation revealed that fewer efforts had been made over the past sixty-five years to alter the thermal performance of leaded-glass windows set directly in stone surrounds. In contrast, there was a clear history of attempts to secure the mass-produced steel windows from air and water infiltration. Second, seen in the context of their location, the window types arrayed themselves in two distinct ways consistent with public-private hierarchies within the college. The fully handcrafted leaded-glass units let directly into stone were almost always located in important public spaces, such as the dining hall, common room, and portions of the library and stairways, the only exceptions in these locations being the operating units. The leaded-glass units set in steel frames, however, were nearly always in private spaces such as student bedrooms and living rooms. Third, there were obvious aesthetic differences intrinsic to the two window categories, one unit fully made by hand as a literal continuation of medieval traditions and technology and the other, though retaining the leaded-glass glazing, being set in a modern mass-produced steel frame. Last were the technical differences in the nature of the failure of the two window types. The leaded-glass units set directly into stone are not operable. Their failure is attributable to material softness, an attribute of lead that often results in bowing of windows and opening of joints to air and water infiltration. The operable units at student rooms exhibited not only this form of failure but also had no weatherstripping and were often difficult to close.
The four planning principles suggested differing strategies across the continuum extending from repair to reconstruction to replacement. The first category, real leaded-glass set in stone, was repaired and reconstructed. Observation revealed little desire on the part of the building's occupants to alter the stone-set glass, which was nearly always in an important public space, implying restoration. The fact that the units are made and set entirely by hand, relying upon a nearly extinct craft tradition, coupled with the fact that their central technical deficiency, excessive bowing, may be addressed by insertion of reinforcement, again encouraged the decision to repair and reconstruct. Judged against the same criteria, however, the more than fifteen hundred operable leaded-glass windows in student rooms became a candidate for replacement with new frames matching the prior profiles and real leaded-glass exterior panels coupled with new interior panels. One can observe considerable evidence of efforts to install ad hoc storm panels and resultant damage to stone surrounds and windows. These units are most often found in private areas of the building, namely student rooms, and they are machine-made modern frames. The technical failures associated with these units are extensive, including not only bowing but, more seriously, excessive air infiltration owing to the original lack of weatherstripping and the present racking within their frames which prevents complete closure of many units. Where original windows require a change of use - for example, solid in-filling to accommodate a new function or alteration to provide air intake or discharge - window surrounds have been left in place both as evidence of crafted stone surrounds and as a remembrance, an observable remnant of prior use.
Another form of window that was not common to the Berkeley of 1934 is the interior window. The only examples were between entry vestibules and the common room and in the wood screens between the common room and dining hall. While need and deference to the preservation of building exteriors suggested minimal alteration there, the accommodation of new, public building programs for student activities at the basement level seemed to call for development of more transparency from one space to the next. The new internal windows have been used in two ways. First, formerly opaque masonry corridors with activity spaces behind closed doors have been rendered transparent by two types of windows: glass curtain walls set in blackened steel frames and smaller-view portals. The new steel curtain walls at the basement level exist at the bottom of the new stairway, between the café and the multipurpose room, between the computer and exercise rooms and corridors, and between the shops and the corridor in North Berkeley. This new transparency provides visual connection, revealing activity and use while satisfying the needs for security and some degree of acoustical separation.
The new view portals provide a different form of visual connection. They are carefully framed and purposely paired to reveal relations between the original historic interiors and new spaces. In the new stair hall beyond the dining hall, one such portal at the top landing provides a glimpse from the new stairway to the historic interiors of the dining hall beyond. Paired against this view portal at the bottom is a half-width doorlike window that provides a glance into the new basement level multipurpose room, directly juxtaposing original and new program interiors viewed through the plane of the stair wall. This pairing of new and already existing interiors through windows continues at the opposite end of the dining hall. At the stairway to the new balcony, a new dormer window provides a distant glimpse of the sky at the top of the stair, which is juxtaposed against an intimate foreground view through the steel railings to the adjoining common room and vestibule below. Between these two new framed experiences is a small portal directing the viewer's eye to the dining hall or common room ceilings and the windows beyond, depending upon one's direction of travel. As with the main stair to the activity center, the balcony stairway connects existing spaces and views, both near and far, expansive and intimate, old and new. The last view portals are between the basement level of the original wood-paneled library and the brick-walled corridor. Here, half-width door openings have been created in the brick walls, allowing for insertion of small window frames within the shelf alcoves of the library interior beyond. The portholes reveal an original 1934 monastic world of the book in the alcove, viewed on the opposite side through a contemporary steel frame from the new activity-center passages.
Observation, public-private distinctions, aesthetics and manner of production, and materials science together provided the theoretical lens through which renewal decisions at Berkeley have been brought into focus. Each element of architecture: windows, doors, walls, floors, ceilings, structure, millwork; each program: student rooms, bathrooms, faculty quarters, dining hall, and student activity spaces - has been repaired, reconstructed, replaced, or formed anew based upon the guidance provided by these principles. The renovated Berkeley is a complex tapestry, woven element by element and program by program, location by location. At each turn, it looks appreciatively backward to a renewal of origins and optimistically forward to a living tradition.
Credits and Captions from Original Article
Alcove at new stair to the South Activity Center; Plan of the basement level at inception (1934); South Court with new ramp; North Court with new ramp; Though the small balconies with low parapets provide Berkeley with much of its medieval character, they continually damaged perimeter walls, windows, and interior finishes; The solution to the damaging balconies was their conversion into gutters with a narrow base and steeply canted sides that no longer invite access; North Berkeley roof plan with leaks indicated; Frame and glazing options for the windows; New windows in student room; The renovations provide for the replacement of all building infrastructure and the introduction of new, fully integrated systems for fire protection and voice and data distribution; View of living room; To comply with fire safety codes requiring two exits, and to maximize the number and size of bedrooms, alarmed doors now join the suites to the next entryway; Flexibility is accommodated by turning alarms on or off to combine separate rooms or rooms formerly associated with one suite into another; Typical arrangements and egress diagram; The new bedrooms have adaptable furniture systems, which include beds that may or may not be bunked and dressers that are the same height as the desks to create work surfaces; From the new elevator lobby at the upper level, several rooms become accessible as well as a new oversize bathroom with accessible fixtures and showers; In 1934, meals were served family-style, with all students seated at the same time, at the same table, and served the same meal by the same waiter; The distinction between public space and service space was unequivocal: the Great Hall was public; the pantry and adjoining kitchen areas were entirely dedicated to the service of the college community; The pantries that were redeveloped as cafeteria-style serving lines were not designed for the entire population of the college to enter, browse, and select their meals; Plan of the dining hall before and after the renovation, showing entry sequence and portions of the Great Hall used for serving; Borrowing from restaurant design, destinations in the new servery include a display cooking alcove, a deli bar, an ice cream bar, a breakfast area, and central serving island; The dining hall and the adjoining common room restored as Great Hall, with new servery and balcony to the east; The old path to the Swiss Room; Section of stairs from dining hall to Swiss Room; Multiple views are created by the new balcony and stairs. One can look up to the sky through a slotted dormer window (A), out among the wooden ceiling beams of the common room through a small view portal (B), down to the vestibule alcove below; also down through an existing Gothic traceried window at the exterior wall of the balcony alcove (C), now in a foot-level relationship with the viewer. From the balcony itself, one can look out over the balcony rail to the ceiling and space of the dining hall; View of the dining hall from the balcony; The discrete installation of the new heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems was aided by the wood paneling under the great windows along Elm Street, which were already pocketed out to permit passage of heated air from floor-mounted radiators to the top of the paneling; Plan of Berkeley College; Plan of New College, Oxford University; Chapel of All Souls College, Oxford. The model for student life at Berkeley, like everything else about the college in 1934, was based on the secularization of monastic life first articulated at Oxford and Cambridge Universities; View of renovated Common Room; Plans of the basement level at inception (1934), pre-renovation (1996) and post-renovation (1999); Section through dining hall, with new stair and multi-purpose room below; Sectional windows reveal and connect the club lounge above (A) to the basement grotto below (B). A small window provides a porthole from the new stair through to the historic dining hall (C). At the base of the stair, a narrow vertical slot window provides a view into the multipurpose room (D); Plan of new café area; View of the brick walls of the basement in 1996 before renovation; View of the new café area replacing the corridor above; The largest of the new spaces is the two-story multipurpose room that has replaced the squash courts; The multipurpose room can be configured as a black-box theater, a space for dancing and aerobics, or a basketball court; Main reading room of Berkeley Library; The North Berkeley activity center includes a game and TV room and an additional music chamber large enough for a small group and capable of fully isolating percussion and amplified instruments from residences; misc credits, callouts, etc.: 1 Harris, S.Y., "A Systems Approach to Building Assessment," Standards for Preservation and Rehabilitation, ASTM STP 1258, S.J. Kelley, Ed., American Society for Testing and Materials, 1996, pp. 137-148