How do you make an historic building and new addition look like they belong together?
How do you make an historic building and new addition look like they belong together?

UC Berkeley Blum Center for Developing Economies

Mirroring the development of this project in cooperation between the College of Engineering and the Richard Blum Global Poverty Initiative, this building combines a modern new facility with the retrofit and restoration of a historic UC Berkeley gem.
Customized Solution
  • As a combination of a new building with the retrofit of an existing structure, this project had the challenge of integrating two buildings into one facility.  The solution was to put both of the structures on a common base, a 1-story concrete podium structure.  While a relatively simple matter for the new building, inserting a new basement level under an existing historic wood structure was a monumental challenge of engineering, detailing, and construction.  By suspending the existing wood structure on temporary steel beams and support piles, the excavation and basement construction could proceed normally and the podium could be built up to connect to the bottom of the wood building hovering above.
  • The existing historic wood building had several structural deficiencies to address as part of this project, including a large number of windows and very little lateral wall to resist earthquakes.  To maintain the historic windows and keep the open feel of the building, steel frames with buckling restrained braces were inserted into the structure at key points, along with extensive collector elements, tying the whole building together to make it seismically safe.
  • To enhance the integration of the spaces in the old and new structures, a bridge was designed between the top levels of the two buildings.  The bridge is braced to the new building and rests on sliding brackets on the old structure, allowing for the independent movement of the two buildings without damage to the bridge.

Academic - University, Historic Renovation

  • Architect: Gensler
  • Owner: Richard Blum / University of California, Berkeley
  • Retrofit: Buckling Restrained Braced Frames (BRBF), new wood diaphragms, and extensive collectors
  • New: Steel moment frame on 1-story concrete podium