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California Student Center/
Lower Sproul Plaza

UC Berkeley


The complex, which consists of four buildings: the MLK Jr. Student Union, César Chávez Dining Commons, Eshleman Hall, and Zellerbach Hall, and two landscapes: Upper and Lower Sproul Plaza, was developed between 1958 and 1968 by the University in association with the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC). Designed in a modernist architectural vocabulary by the joint venture of DeMars & Reay and Donald Hardison & Associates, the Lower Sproul Plaza complex was a significant departure from the Beaux Arts principals of the Howard Plan that had guided the development of the University since the 1890s. Surpassing its architectural significance is the central role that the complex played in the 1960s-era protest movements at UC Berkeley, including Civil Rights, Free Speech, and Peoples' Park.

As historical consultant to the University of California at Berkeley, Knapp & VerPlanck Preservation Architects is preparing an analysis of the of the concept design for Lower Sproul Plaza. The analysis includes review of the concept design against the Historic Structure Report prepared by Kelley & VerPlanck and also against the overall backdrop and preservation goals of the 2020 LRDP to determine the impacts the proposed design would have under CEQA. The summary of the analysis provides diagrammatic and descriptive notations to illustrate impacts and opportunities for preservation in the proposed scheme. These findings are part of a fluid concept phase that would also receive additional input from the Design Review Committee, Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, and Berkeley Landmarks Commission to produce a progressive but compatible design.