Winning Playbook: California Memorial Stadium and Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance
Photo: Jim Simmons
HNTB Architecture and STUDIOS Architecture teamed up to give UC Berkeley's 1920s-era California Memorial Stadium a seismic retrofit and expansion that respects its history. Designed by campus architect John Galen Howard, the neoclassical national landmark offers spectators magnificent views of the San Francisco Bay from its seat at the base of the Berkeley foothills.
The stadium is perched dangerously on a site straddling the active Hayward Fault, and in 2005, the UC Board of Regents mandated a major seismic overhaul that that would make the structure safe and increase square footage by 50 percent-- on the condition, however, that the original facade was to remain unaltered in order to preserve the stadium's structural integrity.
Associate architect STUDIOS Architecture, led by Darryl Roberson (B.Arch. '60) and Marc Pfenninger, worked with executive architect HNTB Architecture to approach the challenge by constructing a new eight-story building to replace the western two-thirds of the old structure, save for the facade and the portion built into the hillside. Along with a team from Forell/Elsesser Engineers, the architects accommodated the fault's natural movement by designing the concrete structure in two halves along the fault line. The wedge-shaped seating sections can slide up to six feet horizontally and two feet vertically to minimize damage during a quake.
The project team collaborated with landscape architect OLIN in the design of the Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance. The 145,000-square-foot athletic training center is integrated directly into the mountain and constructed largely underground. Its unintrusive placement, along with the conversion of a former parking lot, allows for a social plaza space at the stadium's base for fans to congregate before and after games.
Years of additions to the old stadium had resulted in blocked views of the campus and bay, but the new stadium recalls Howard's extroverted building by including clear views from every vomitory, or path from the stands to the concourse. The integration of a modern two-story glass-and-steel canopy on the west side of the seating bowl provides space for a donor club on the upper floor, while the lower level houses a press box innovatively designed to sway independently of the bowl during an earthquake.