Catherine Bauer Wurster Initiative: A Toast with Chancellor Carol Christ and Dean Vishaan Chakrabarti
Share a toast with Chancellor Carol Christ and Dean Vishaan Chakrabarti as they celebrate the kickoff of the College of Environmental Design’s naming reaffirmation. What once was Wurster Hall will now be called: Bauer Wurster Hall.
Joining the Chancellor and the Dean will be Chris Marino, Archivist at the Environmental Design Archives and members of the UC Berkeley 150W committee to discuss the contributions and legacy of Catherine Bauer Wurster.
In conjunction with UC Berkeley’s 150th year anniversary of admitting women to enroll, that the College of Environmental Design will reaffirm the name of Wurster Hall to Bauer Wurster Hall, to recognize both William W. Wurster, former Dean, and Catherine Bauer Wuster, former Associate Dean.
As with many iterations of American history that we believe must be re-told from the perspective of diverse and marginalized communities, the story of Wurster Hall is no different. Unbeknownst to many, our building was officially named by the campus building committee in 1964 for both William W. Wurster and Catherine Bauer Wurster. Although her history has been dramatically undervalued and overlooked, we believe that Catherine Bauer Wurster has left the same type of significant mark in America as figures such as Jane Jacobs or Rachel Carson, on public housing and social infrastructure. We would like to ensure that her legacy and historic contributions are accurately portrayed as central to our origin story and to do this we are launching a campaign to re-affirm that our building will be known as Bauer Wurster Hall moving forward.
While her achievements are vast and her contributions are many, Catherine Bauer Wurster was a formidable force for equity and justice especially in the field of housing. She served and advised three presidents (Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower) on housing and urban planning strategies in the US; penned the U.S. Housing Act of 1937; wrote the critically acclaimed book Modern Housing; and was an educator, academic, and activist over a 25-year career. Working at both UC Berkeley (1940-1944, 1950-1964) and Harvard (1944-1950), she became the fifth faculty member and the first woman to join our Department of City and Regional Planning and was a fervent believer in interdisciplinary education, re-writing much of our undergraduate curriculum. Most significantly, Catherine Bauer Wurster was an integral voice pioneering the creation of the College of Environmental Design to house all three of our current disciplines, making it the first institution of its kind to recognize the essential importance of collaboration across interdisciplinary design and planning fields.
As the anniversary of 150 years of UC Berkeley admitting women comes to a close in 2020, we couldn’t be more proud to re-affirm the legacy of Catherine Bauer Wurster and ensure that our building’s name reflects her contributions to our community. To that effect, we will be hosting a variety of events that will look back, to shed light on her important work, and look forward, to re-envision what public housing and social infrastructure could look like in our country. We are excited to reignite a conversation about how we as researchers, designers, and practitioners can shape the next chapter housing and social infrastructure design and policy.