The new Brower Center in Berkeley


View of the lobby with the main entrance on the left.
All photographs on this page are by Tim Griffith unless noted otherwise.

The lobby, entered from Allston Street, is dignified and devoid of  statements that scream green. Natural materials with neutral tones are dominant, but artworks shown in an exhibition space off the lobby may provide colorful accents.

The glazed area visible in the upper right corner of the image below is on the second floor where doors open to a landscaped terrace.

The lobby

Separate organizations may share offices on the upper floors.

The second floor opening above the lobby.
Photograph by Sally Woodbridge.

The decorative panel shown above suspended below the ceiling conceals acoustic panels. It is made of recycled cypress wood slats woven in a traditional Japanese pattern.

Woven recycled cypress wood slats ceiling panel.
Photograph by Sally Woodbridge.

Originally, there were to have been two elevators, but the Brower Center’s founder and president, Peter Buckley, decided to lower energy consumption by turning one of the elevators into a stairway. The architects cut openings into the stairway’s concrete, wood and steel enclosure to allow the sight of people  ascending and descending the stairs to animate the view from the lobby.

View toward stair enclosure off the lobby

6 Responses

  1. Barbara Seaton says:

    Sally’s article made me want to travel right out to CA to experience the Brower Center for myself. Despite the excellent photos and descriptive material, I found it difficult to visualize the entirety. But as a longtime Sierra Club member, I appreciated the architects’ intent in honoring Brower.

  2. Gina Phelan says:

    A quick response to Dorothy’s comment about the height of the Brower Center: it was built up to Berkeley’s zoning maximum.

  3. Sally Woodbridge says:

    I appreciate Jay’s and Dorothy’s comments because they add different points of view to my article, and that is always welcome. We need more public discussion to better inform both the general public and the design community.

  4. Dorothy Walker says:

    Unfortunately, this innovative and impressive building and the adjacent housing underutilized an important site in City ownership near a BART station and across from the mass of the University’s Edwards Track Stadium. If it were several floors taller, this development would be even more “green”, its architecture more impressive, and it would have a more appropriate scale and create a better sense of place. With a larger vision, this site could have led the way demonstrating how a few taller buildings could transform Berkeley’s Downtown and support transit oriented development.

  5. A very informative and illuminating essay that helps me appreciate the building as it might be experienced without the oppressive closeness of the Oxford Plaza Apartments. Unfortunately, from the street the building cannot be understood as it is from Tim Griffith’s excellent photography and Woodbridge’s narrative. The view from the nearby upper level of a campus building shows the Brower Center as it should be seen. Fortunately,when Gather Restaurant is open, there is more of the spirit that the article describes. Perhaps if and when the area on the west side of Edwards Stadium across the street is free of its intrusive building and relandscaped, the Brower Center will appear more as it is described than as it is at present, which is a bit like walking past a Greek temple on a narrow infill lot in a declining downtown.

  6. Suzanne Harris says:

    Very impressive. Great Photos.

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