Structure Type: built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Howard, John Galen, Architect (firm); Kolbeck, Cardwell and Christopherson, Architects (firm); Kenneth Harvey Cardwell (architect); Bennett Lewis Christopherson (architect); William Charles Hays (architect); John Galen Howard (architect); Carl Gronbech Kolbeck (architect)

Dates: constructed 1906-1911

9 stories

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University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-6000

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Building History

Architect John Galen Howard (1864-1931), who came to Berkeley, CA, in 1902 from New York, NY, designed this Neo-classical temple of higher learning along with his close associate, William C. Hays (1873-1963), who had recently migrated from Philadelphia. Administrators broke ground for the majestic building on 08/03/1906. Work on the foundations proceeded slowly, as the building crew unexpectedly encountered solid stone on the excavation's north and east sides. Engineers used dynamite judiciously to break up the rock, working with care not to disturb nearby North Hall.

UCB President Benjamin Ide Wheeler (1854-1927) and Librarian Joseph C. Rowell laid its cornerstone on Thanksgiving Day, 11/26/1908. San Francisco businessman Charles Franklin Doe (1833-1904), who educated himself through books, had no heirs, and left over $595,000 to the Regents of the University of California for the construction of an academic building. His money paid for the partial construction of the building; "In spite of Mr. Doe's generous gift of $600,000, there were not adequate funds for the erection of the entire building as planned by Architect Howard. Accordingly, it was decided to build the major portion, and add the rest of the building as funds became available. The plans of the first part of the building therefore, included the entire basement and first floors, the monumental reading room and loan hall on the second floor, a small portion of the west side of the second floor for offices, and five floors only of stack." The Regents completed Doe Library gradually with subsequent funds. "With the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 still vividly in mind, the building was very strongly constructed and cross-braced. It was made as nearly fire-proof as possible with interior walls and floors of reinforced concrete, and exterior wall of great blocks of solid granite, quarried from the mountains of Mariposa County, California, by the Raymond Granite Company." A recent engineering graduate, Walter L. Huber, supervised erection of the building's stout steel frame. Construction of Doe's Library's first phase concluded in 05/1911, and the building was officially opened to the public on 06/26/1911. A formal dedication with Wheeler, Rowell and Charles Doe's nephew, Loring B. Doe, occurred the following year on 03/23/1912. Due to the collection's rapid growth, funds were found to finish the building in 1917; "…The remaining two main floors were added (this included the east reading room, now the Loan Hall) and four additional floors of stack making nine in all…." (All quotes from "Charles Franklin Doe, Benefactor: The Semicentennial of the Charles Franklin Doe Library," accessed 07/30/2013.)

Building Notes

Steeped in Neo-classical traditions of architectural style and iconography, architect Howard included a statute of Athena, Greek goddess of widom, over the main entry to inspire students.


Changes were made to Doe Library as part of the University of California, Berkeley's major capital improvements campaign of 1963-1964. Work was completed by the Berkeley architectural firm of Kolbeck, Cardwell and Christopherson, Architects.

The University of California completed construction of the four-floor Gardner Stacks onto the Doe Library in 1995. Portions of Howard's Doe Library were renovated, c. 2002.

The placement of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, over the main entrance reflects Berkeley's aspiration to become the "Athens of the West."

National Register of Historic Places (March 25, 1982): 82004639 NRHP Images (pdf) NHRP Registration Form (pdf)

California Historical Landmark: 946

Berkeley Historical Landmark: 148

PCAD id: 1694