University of California Berkeley Lower Sproul Plaza

Berkeley, CA

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Renovating A Mid Century Free Speech Student Icon

Built in 1959, the historic landscape has served as the venue of Berkeley’s civil rights and free speech movements but had become worn and neglected by students. The design was a foundation on top of which we addressed contemporary considerations. The new plaza design revitalizes the identity of the open space with native plant gardens integrated with stairs and ramps for universal access across significant grade change. Discrete design interventions artfully honor the mid-century modern design and improve the center of campus life. The design team worked closely on an advanced stormwater treatment and grey water reuse program to ensure that site and building infrastructure are highly integrated. All improvements are designed to respect existing dense tree groves and the mid-century modern character of the building complex.

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The revitalization of this mid-century complex is a student-based initiative that reinvigorates the site into a common gathering space for the entire campus. Flexible outdoor spaces compliment uses inside the surrounding buildings as well as events, performances, dining, gathering. Building upgrades include the replacement of the student government building and renovations and expansion of the MLK Jr. Student Union with dining, social, and community spaces. The new Alumni Quad is created from a fire lane and service area recast as a memorial garden.
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Image Credit: Steve Proehl

The revitalization of the Lower Sproul Plaza and Student Community Center is a unique and important project for CMG in many ways: highly integrated building and landscape stormwater management, technical on-structure design incorporating new and existing plaza deck and building structures, and renovation and revitalization of the mid-century complex that is the historic host of Berkeley’s civil rights and free speech movements.