Berkeley, California


Of the many neoclassical buildings that architect John Galen Howard designed for the University of California, Berkeley, in the early twentieth century, California Memorial Stadium was perhaps the most breathtaking and the most imperiled: from its perch at the base of the Berkeley foothills, the concrete structure—part coliseum, part amphitheater dug into the hillside—offered 73,000 Golden Bears fans sweeping views of San Francisco Bay to the west, but on a site straddling the Hayward Fault.

After the University of California's Board of Regents mandated a much-needed seismic revamp in 2005, the university enlisted HNTB Architecture and STUDIOS Architecture to overhaul the 1923 structure, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was a tall order: designers needed to make the stadium safe and boost square footage by 50 percent. However, they were not permitted to interfere with the historic board-formed-concrete facade. In other words, the university wanted an entirely new building, but without altering the original.

The architects found the solution to this Zen koan of a design brief in the site's slope, much as Howard had 90 years ago. Beginning construction in 2010, they hid a 145,000-square-foot athletic training center largely underground, disguising it behind a series of concentric retaining walls made out of volcanic rock, limestone, and concrete. They demolished the western two-thirds of the old structure—everything but the portion built into the hillside and the facade—and inserted a new eight-story building, including three donor clubhouses, into the original footprint. With the help of Forell/Elsesser Engineers, the team designed the poured-in-place concrete structure (with precast seating platforms in the bowl) in two halves along the fault line, which traces a roughly north-south diagonal from one end zone to the other. For the parts of the bowl directly over the fault, the engineers conceived a pair of wedge-shaped seating sections that can slide up to six feet horizontally and two feet vertically during a powerful quake [see RECORD, January 2009, page 112]. Like a heist in broad daylight, the stadium's dismantling and replacement is the kind of switcheroo that a casual observer could easily miss. “One question you hear from people who were here before is, 'What did you do?' ” recounts Joseph Diesko, HNTB's director of sport architecture. “They say, 'It looks like the same place.' ”

The biggest difference for fans? They now have a place to congregate before and after games: By tucking the training center into the front of the hillside site, the architects created an acre-and-a-half plaza at the stadium's base, where a scruffy parking lot once brought cars right up to the historic facade. The architects also wanted the stadium to feel like the extroverted building of Howard's day. Unlike most football arenas, which direct all eyes to the field, “this one was built to look outward,” says Berkeley assistant athletic director Bob Milano Jr., pointing to the arched windows that frame views of the campus and the bay. In the old stadium, decades of ad-hoc additions had cluttered the corridors and blocked windows; in the new one, every vomitory (the path from the stands to the concourse) offers a view through an arch. “We were trying not only to reinforce the historic architecture, but the historic experience,” says Milano.

The west side of the seating bowl does have one modern-looking addition: a two-story glass-and-steel canopy housing the press box on the lower level and a donor club on top. Because it was important to the architects to honor the stadium's original profile by putting some air between the old and new elements, they housed the press box inside a steel box truss. It is largely supported by two concrete elevator cores instead of a sea of columns. “That makes it appear to float,” says Gregory Baker, HNTB associate vice president.

This arrangement has seismic advantages too. The engineers designed the elevator cores as a separate structure that passes through the stadium. The cores displaced seats (as did other aspects of the modernization, including complying with accessibility requirements), bringing capacity down by 10,000 to approximately 63,000. But the tradeoff was necessary for safety. In an earthquake, the canopy will sway at its own rate, independently of the bowl's motion.

By solving seismic and architectural challenges in the same gesture, the architects and engineers pulled off a stunning sleight of hand, delivering a modern home for Berkeley football that feels as familiar as the original.

Size: 454,000 square feet

Cost: $474 million

Completion Date: August 2012


University of California Berkeley

HNTB Architecture
601 W 5th Street, Suite 1000
Los Angeles, CA 90071
STUDIOS Architecture
405 Howard Street, Suite 588
San Francisco, CA 94105

Project Attribution:
HNTB Architecture and STUDIOS Architecture

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
For HNTB Architecture-
Joseph Diesko, AIA, Executive Architect
Fernando Vazquez, AIA, Project Designer
Gregory Baker, AIA, Project Architect / Design

Design and Construction Team:
John Bechtel, Fred Kimotsuki, Henry Lau, Lanson Nichols, Olivia Ocampo, Vernon Pounds, Greg Prelogar, Corey Schurr, Karl Smith, Taeko Welty, Kalin Yordanov, Clifford Wong

For STUDIOS Architecture-
Darryl Roberson, FAIA, Marc Pfenninger, AIA, Principals in Charge
Jeong Choi, Associate AIA, Project Architect / Design
Kristin Lacy, AIA, Project Architect / Design

Design and construction team:
Eric Gratacap, Nicholas Tsuk AIA, Craig McHenry, Jared Grellner, Daniel Guich, AIA, Geordie Van Der Bosch, Anna Chou, Ben Lorance

Executive Architect:
HNTB Architecture

Associate Architect:
STUDIOS Architecture

Interior Designer:
The two firms jointly developed the Architecture and Interiors

Forell / Elsesser Engineers, Inc
San Francisco, CA

WSP Flack + Kurtz
San Francisco, CA

Bellecci & Associates
Concord, CA

Olin Partnership, Philadelphia, PA

Historic Architect:
Knapp Architects

Horton Lees Brogden, San Francisco, CA

WJHW, Dallas, TX

Field Turf:
Lloyd Engineering, Scottsdale, AZ

Signage and Graphics:
Debra Nichols Design, San Francisco, CA

Code Consultant:
The Fire Consultants, Inc, Walnut Creek, CA

Structural Glass:
Dewhurst Mcfarlane, New York, NY

General contractor:
Webcor Builders (CMS)
Hunt Construction Group (Simpson Center)

Tim Griffith, Tim Griffith Photographer
Jim Simmons, Jim Simmons Photography
Steve Proehl, Proehl Studios
Jeffrey Katz, Jeffrey Katz Photography
Michael O'Callahan, Michael O'Callahan Photography

CAD system, project management, or other software used:
Revit, Newforma



Structural system
Concrete, Precast Concrete, Steel

Exterior cladding
Trenwyth Astra-Glaze

Metal Panels:
Custom Fabrication by Woodbridge Glass

Metal/glass curtain wall:

Precast concrete:
Custom Fabrication by Willis Construction

Moisture barrier:
Dupont Tyvek StuccoWrap

Curtain wall:

Other cladding unique to this project:
Tnemec Paint
Isolatek Cafco Inutmescent
International Cellulose Corporation K-13 Spray On Insulation
Construction Specialties ' Louvers and Seismic Joint Covers

Sika Sarnafil
Tremco Vulkem Roof Terrace / Deck Coating System

Metal frame:
NanaWall, Tepco Contract Glazing

Northwestern Industries, Glaspro, Viracon


Metal doors:
Custom by E.M. Hundley Hardware, Co.

Wood doors:
Custom by E.M. Hundley Hardware, Co.

Pemko, Stanley Security Solutions, Norton, Ives, Don-Jo, Schlage

Interior finishes
Acoustical ceilings:
Armstrong, Linder, RPG

Suspension grid:
Armstrong, Linder

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork:
Custom Fabrication by ISEC


Plastic laminate:
Abet Laminati, Formica

Solid surfacing:
Wilsonart, Silestone

Special surfacing:
Robins Pulastic, Mondo Sports Floor, Eucalyptus Butcher Block by Green Mountain

Floor and wall tile:
Graniti Finadre, Royal Mosa, Dal

Resilient flooring:
Armstrong, Johnsonite

C&A, Interface

Special interior finishes unique to this project:
Newmat Stretch Fabric

Office furniture:
Steelcase, Gunlock

Reception furniture:
Custom by ISEC

Fixed seating:
Custom by ISEC

Herman Miller, Steelcase, Coalesse, KFF, KI, Gunlocke, Arper, High Tower

Herman Miller, Steelcase, Coalesse, KFF, KI, Forms + Surfaces

Carneige, Design TEX, Luna Textiles, Arc Com

Other furniture:
Metro Racks

iO Lighting

Interior ambient lighting:
Clikstrip, Linear Lighting

Lighting Systems, Lightolier, Linear Lighting, Dasal

Bega, Musco, iO Lighting, Elliptipar, Lumiere, Kirlin, Dasal