Structure Type: built works - recreation areas and structures - stadiums

Designers: HNTB Architecture, Incorporated (firm); Howard, John Galen, Architect (firm); Ratcliff, Slama, and Cadwalader, Architects (firm); G. F. Buckingham ; Burns Cadwalader (architect); E. E. Carpenter ; Joseph Diesko (architect); David Friedman (structural engineer); John Galen Howard (architect); Robert Williams Ratcliff (architect); Murray Alfred Slama (architect)

Dates: constructed 1921-1923

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76 Canyon Road
Strawberry Canyon, Berkeley, CA 94704

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Building History

Architect John Galen Howard (1864-1931) designed the Memorial Stadium with G.F. Buckingham and E.E. Carpenter; this was one of the last works by Howard on the UC Berkeley campus. Football fans in the State of California raised a staggering one million dollars in a month to fund the stadium in 1921. The stadium itself cost $1,437,982 in 1923.

Building Notes

Strawberry Canyon was the second, controversial site for the University of California's football stadium; in 1921, it was announced that it would be built at Allston Way and Bancroft Way. Plans for the site changed before 1923, and just after the announcement of the new location, four high-profile local architects and a landscape architect (Bruce Porter) wrote a public letter condemning the change. The architects were alumni, William G. Corlett (class of 1910), Henry H. Gutterson (class of 1905), Walter T. Steilberg (class of 1910), and Walter H. Ratcliff (class of 1903). Memorial Stadium rests atop the Hayward Fault, which lies beneath Sections M through XX (the Pacific Plate) and Sections MM through X (North American Plate). In 2008, Memorial Stadium had a capacity of 75,662.

Alteration

The press box was renovated by Ratcliff, Slama, and Cadwalader in 1969; university officials raised over $8 million for renovations to University of California, Berkeley (UCB) athletic facilities in the 1980s. Artificial turf was installed in Memorial Stadium in 1981, although this was replaced with a $1.5 million natural grass field in 1995. New locker and training room facilities as well as new stadium administrative buildings were added in 1983. Training facilities were further expanded in 1991, while a meeting room for the team was constructed before the 1994 season.

In 2008, it was determined that the stadium's eastern portion, dug into the hillside of Strawberry Canyon, did not need renovation; the west side, however, built on loose landfill over Strawberry Creek, needed seismic retrofitting. This portion of the stadium would receive added bracing and sheer walls to shore up the structure, while the Beaux-Arts exterior would receive a new coating of concrete. In addition, parts of the stadium resting directly on the Hayward Fault would be cut five feet apart, raised on concrete block, which would then be placed on plastic sheets. This configuration would allow subsoil to move against the sheeting and the blocks would continue to support the stands. Hinged steel connectors would join the stands and prevent fans from falling through the five-foot gaps. Funding for this retrofit could not come from the state, as this would violate the California Alquist-Priolo Act, a law requiring that no public funds be used on repairs costing more than half of a building's value. This retrofit cost was estimated to be $150-175 million, although its final price tag came to $321 million in 2012. UC Berkeley valued the stadium at $600 million, which was considered inflated in order for the repairs to fall under the Alquist-Priolo Act threshold. Construction on this seismic upgrade took 21 months.

An article by Tracey Taylor in the blog Berkeleyside.com described the renovation: "All but the outer wall and eastern seating bowl were completely rebuilt. To ensure the structure withstands a major quake, the architects and engineers effectively built three separate structures that sit inside the frame created by the original Romanesque façade. The original oval shape of the bowl was preserved. A new press box and University Club structure appears to float above the west side of the stadium, although it is in fact anchored on concrete pylons and connected to strong shock absorbers." (See Tracey Taylor, Berkeleyside.com, "Cal Memorial Stadium unveiled after 21-month renovation," published 04/27/2012, accessed 06/19/2019.) The project also included the addition of the Simpson Student-Athlete High Performance Center, completed in 2011 and the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Plaza, a gathering spot for gameday parties.

During this renovation, 100 trees were removed, but 134 new ones planted. All wooden plank benches were removed and repurposed, and were replaced by aluminum seating.

National Register of Historic Places: 06001086 NRHP Images (pdf) NHRP Registration Form (pdf)

PCAD id: 4198