Berkeley’s architectural wonders build the city’s status as one of the American West’s best-designed small cities. Starting with the University of California campus at its heart and continuing outward with architectural aplomb, Berkeley’s buildings stand not only as masterworks of design but portals into the city’s rich historic legacy. Stop by the Berkeley Visitor Information Center at 2030 Addison Street downtown for the Berkeley Walks, 41 Berkeley Walking Tours, and Berkeley and its Pathways guides to time-travel through Berkeley.
Downtown Berkeley Public Library (1934):
The central branch of the Berkeley Public Library is an art deco structure designed by architect James W Plachek. Broad pilasters frame the corners and entrance, each crowned with a pair of ram’s heads carved in the style of Ancient Mayan art. At eye-level a detailed frieze in the style of Ancient Egyptian art depicts book making.
UC Berkeley Sather Tower (1914):
UC Berkeley’s Sather Tower is also known as the “Campanile” because of its resemblance to St. Mark’s Campanile in Venice, Italy. Like many early 20th century structures at Berkeley, Sather Tower was designed by architect John Galen Howard. Rising 307 feet, Sather Tower is the third tallest bell and clock tower in the world. The Sather Tower observation deck not only provides a stunning 360-degree view of the Bay Area, but also a wonderful glimpse of the 61 bells and playing chamber. Time your visit during one of the three daily carillon concerts to see the tower in action.
South Hall (1873):
Built in 1873, South Hall is the oldest building at UC Berkeley—the last remaining of the original campus. It was designed by architect David Farquharson. Farquharson employed the use of hollow masonry blocks and metal tie bars, making it more resistant to fire and earthquakes, and therefore more viable for restoration efforts throughout the decades.
Once a dominant skyline figure, South Hall now sits among much larger structures. South Hall is a four-story brick and granite structure decorated with carvings of crops native to California. South Hall is now the home of Berkeley’s newest professional program, the School of Information.
The Golden Sheaf Bakery (1877):
Located in the Downtown Arts District, this two-story brick structure is characterized by six arched windows and terracotta ornamentations. The cornice is crowned with a carved sheaf and a large title panel that spans the central bay. Above the rectangular portals, three decorative keystones look suspiciously like boxes of doughnuts.