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"Rethinking the First UC Campus and Designing the Tenth at Merced"
February 10, 2000

Dorothy A. Walker


I used to like being the wrap-up person when I was on the Berkeley Planning Commission because I got to vote last. But I'm not so sure I like speaking last when we've had so many excellent comments today. But because I'm retired now and I have no vested interested in any of this, I perhaps can come with a cleaner perspective and maybe a different perspective. And I thought I would try to address exactly the topic of our panel, which was to rethink the first Berkeley campus plan, in light of the design of the Merced campus.

And so the first plan, of course, was not the first plan. I think we have to go back to the Organic Act in 1868, which posed the Germanic model for the Berkeley campus, and, in fact, said that the dormitory system would not be implemented because it was the site of student disorder. So there are a number of things we could rethink here.

But if I were starting over again, this is what I would do. First of all, I would plan that the campus would have three parts: an academic core, an extended campus for ancillary facilities, and a natural reserve campus. I would certainly have more acreage than Berkeley has had to work with in recent years. You know, we sold off quite a lot of acreage in the 1870's to pay faculty salaries, and that was a serious mistake from which we've never recovered. I would mix the academic disciplines in the core campus because I believe it would promote interdisciplinary activities and friendships among scholars in different disciplines, but expose students to the libraries, facilities, faculty and students in many disciplines. I think it would also help the campus as it developed over time. I would plan the open spaces for the campus as the basic structure within which buildings and development will occur, and I certainly concur with the previous speakers who have made that point. The plan which should be designed to permit the campus buildings to develop incrementally over time, with densities of development in clusters, rather than major empty spaces between the buildings waiting for the future development. This type of development is particularly feasible if you're mixing all of the academic disciplines. And then the campus over time would have clusters of intensive development from different time periods within the open space system. It also makes redevelopment easier, you could actually close a section of the campus that had really deteriorated and redevelop it.

This organizing framework should provide continuity as the campus develops, provide for concentrations of development with compact centers and activity nodes, and meld the concepts of the buildings and the park with the intimacy of the traditional courts and quadrangles. Complexity and distinctiveness in terms of landscape and building types should be encouraged, so the campus would reflect the different eras of its development. One of the strengths of the Berkeley campus, and Harrison noted it, is the fact that we have at least five different landscape types that we've identified and that they are part of what helps organize the campus, even if people haven't thought through what's happening there. So encouraging that complexity would be very important.

I certainly think we should be planning more in the English tradition, rather than in the Germanic tradition, but student housing and all the support facilities need to be planned in the original plan for the extended campus, not as an afterthought as Berkeley has had to do.

I would design the circulation and transportation systems to serve the campus, including a rapid transit station on the campus, the bus station, the bike paths, the pedestrian walkways, adequate travel corridors for busses and cars that minimize impact on the surrounding community, easy access to underground or hidden structured parking, with underground service and delivery access. The system should be planned to serve the adjacent community as well as the campus, and to link the campus and the community together, not divide them. I would plan for the campus community interface, including the integration of the most public-serving aspects of the campus into the community; that is, the museums, theaters, auditoriums, sports arena, stadiums, student center, and stores, etc., should be located in the extended campus adjacent to the community core, and shared facilities would be identified, located and planned from the outset, particularly, performing arts spaces, conference facilities, transportation hubs and so forth.

The lines between the extended campus and the community would be somewhat unclear on at least one side of the campus, and the intensity of campus development would help define the community heart, the downtown, and embed the campus in the community in a positive way. I would develop a conceptual plan for the new community that would be adjacent to the campus, and that would include a community open space system as a framework for its development, to link with the extended campus open space system and with the natural reserve buffer areas that are a joint campus-community resource. I guess I really want the planners' dream of New York at my front door and the park and the wilderness at the back door. I think we could have it.

Certainly, planning the circulation of transportation together, planning the locations for the concentrations of office, commercial, and recreation activities, and the relationship to the extended campus, I would identify from the get-go the locations for the research spin-off activities that are inevitably going to occur, and, of course, the relationship of student and faculty housing to community housing and how those will work together.

That was just my quick thoughts on what I would do if I were doing it over again.



Dorothy Walker retired in 1995 from the University of California system as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Property Development at the Berkeley campus. She was the first woman in the UC system to hold a non-academic administrative position at the vice-chancellorial level, and had previously served as Associate Director of the Campus Planning Office and as Director of Community Affairs at UC Berkeley. During over 20 years of service at Berkeley she had a lead role on major projects including the acquisition and development of the University’s Clark Kerr Campus (housing some 800 students and faculty), development of the Foothill Housing, creation of the 1990 Long Range Development Plan, and development of UC Berkeley’s first for-sale faculty housing. She was also involved in various transportation planning initiatives and was the founder of the innovative multi-agency Berkeley TRiP (Transit/Rides/Parking) program which promotes alternatives to single-car commuting. Walker was the founding president of the American Planning Association and served as chair of the City of Berkeley’s Planning Commission, in addition to a variety of on-going civic involvement.

 

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