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UC Berkeley celebrates Bay Area's landscapes with two-day tour, symposium
05 April 2002

By Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations

Berkeley - Looking for a different kind of getaway?

The University of California, Berkeley's College of Environmental Design Alumni Association is offering guided "Sites and Insights" tours of a few of the San Francisco Bay Area's most distinctively designed landscapes, ranging from revered historic sites and gardens to contemporary corporate centers.

Open to environmental design professionals and also to the general public, the six special tours on Sunday, April 28, feature sites that exemplify the exceptional range of the Bay Area's rich landscape history and help give the region its identity and meaning.

An all-day, follow-up symposium is set for Saturday, May 4, on the UC Berkeley campus at the Pacific Film Archive Theater to allow participants to further interpret and evaluate the sites, as well as learn more about the original design inspiration and intention.

"It's kind of that shared, experiential learning," said David Johnson, president of the CED Alumni Association and a landscape architect at UC Berkeley. "It's very exciting."

Participants are asked to select one of the following sites:

1. Berkeley/Emeryville:
Blackberry Creek restoration project in North Berkeley, a 1996 project designed by Wolfe Mason Associates, resulted from a host of public meetings, public financial support and numerous community volunteers. The project restored the creek's cherished habitat in Blackberry Creek Park. Sarah Tamblyn of Wolfe Mason will serve as the guide.

At Chiron Corp.'s new biotechnology center on an industrial site in Emeryville, the firm of Peter Walker and Partners renewed connections to the city and bay by realigning circulation and view corridors and creating an open space network of plazas and public streetscapes. Plans call for adding more research facilities and garden space.

Pixar Animation Studio's new 215,000-square-foot headquarters in Emeryville is set up so that employees and visitors enter through a working orchard and walk to the front door via a path flanked by a linear garden. A grass-terraced amphitheater serves as an individual and communal gathering place.

2. Stanford University
Stanford Campus Architect David Neuman and John Wong of the SWA Group will lead this tour. It will include new projects undertaken with Neuman's guidance to try to return to the original planning concept of quadrangles and connecting malls in the designs for the university's Science and Engineering Quadrangle and its Serra Mall. The approach is one loyal to the original axes established for campus design by Frederick Law Olmsted in the 1880s, and Neuman strives to weave the infrastructure, site improvements and buildings gracefully into the campus fabric.

3. San Francisco's Crissy Field at the Presidio
The nation's first urban national park offers a fascinating look at the restoration and rehabilitation of natural landscapes of wetlands and dunes along the waterfront, as well as their integration with a variety of recreational uses. Tour leaders are Mary Margaret Jones, from the design firm of Hargreaves Associates, responsible for today's Crissy Field, and Michael Boland from the Presidio Trust.

4. San Francisco's Embarcadero
The recently finished Embarcadero Waterfront Promenade and two parks on the city's northeastern waterfront will be explored, including the Peter Walker-designed Sydney G. Walton Square Park and its ring of poplar trees and outdoor sculpture. Also on the tour is the Levi Strauss Plaza Park designed by Lawrence Halprin. Guiding the tour will be Bonnie Fisher of the ROMA Design Group.

5. Oakland
Mountain View Cemetery in the heart of Oakland was designed by Olmsted and dedicated in 1865. Tour leaders include Jeff Lindeman, cemetery general manager, Joe Runco from the SWA Group and Christine Pattillo of Pattillo and Garrett.

Kaiser Center Roof Garden may be 40 years old and made with rice straw, layers of rock, soil and plants, but the design by Ted Osmundson still holds up superbly. Osmundson is leading the tour of this urban park.

Lafayette Square is a 1.5-acre park and the last of seven original squares in downtown Oakland. Designer Walter Hood, chair of UC Berkeley's Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning and head of Hood Design, will lead the tour of the site. It features a water fountain that marks the summer solstice, a community center, restrooms, play and barbecue areas, an amphitheater and even facilities for the homeless, many of whom consider the park home.

6. Marin/Sonoma
Mountain Theater on Mt. Tamalpais was commissioned by the Mountain Play Association in 1925. The group hired Emerson Knight to design the landmark outdoor theater, which he constructed with massive, uncut local stone and stretched horizontally across the site to conform to the contorted topography. Linda Jewell, UC Berkeley professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning, leads the tour of the facility that still hosts sell-out crowds and boasts sweeping views of San Francisco Bay and San Francisco's skyline.

Donnell Garden is private, but will open for the tour. The Sonoma County garden designed by Thomas Church in 1948 features a free-form pool and a terrace that both hover over a creek, wetlands and the bay. Ralph Alexander will lead the tour of the garden and its recent improvements.

The idea, said program organizers, is to help participants gain new insights into the making of exceptional places.

Cost of the program is $75 per person for College of Environmental Design alumni and $100 per person for those who are not. Covered by the cost are breakfast, lunch, and a reception at the symposium, along with a book with uniform site histories, prepared by students in a course taught by lecturer Helaine Kaplan Prentice.

Advance registration is required and space is limited to 225 people For reservations, contact Sheila Dickie at (510) 642-7722 or