AKA: University of California, Berkeley (UCB), Unit #3 Dormitory Complex, Berkeley, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - housing - student housing; built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Page and Turnbull, Incorporated (firm); Warnecke and Warnecke, Architects (firm); Carl Ingomar Warnecke (architect); John Carl Warnecke Sr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1961-1964

9 stories

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2400 Durant Avenue
University of California, Berkeley, Campus, Berkeley, CA 94720

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Set in a dense neighborhood consisting of single family residences converted to shared housing, apartments, University of California dormitories and other facilities, churches, garages, and retail businesses, the Unit 3 complex was bounded by Durant Avenue on the north, Dana Street on the west, Telegraph Avenue on the east, and Channing Way on the south. Unit 3, built between 1961 and 1964, consisted of four nine-story residence towers--Priestley, Norton, Spens-Black, and Ida Sproul Halls--sited around a Commons Building, that housed a shared dining hall. The architectural firm was Warnecke and Warnecke, whose younger partner John Carl Warnecke, Sr., would become a celebrated designer of offiice towers, governmental facilities and university buildings across North America. The younger Warnecke made his reputation designing educational facilities, and he worked extensively throughout the UC System as well as at Stanford University.

Building History

A competition for the design of Unit 3 Housing occurred in 1956, with seven firms entering, including the large Los Angeles firms Welton Becket and Associates and Pereira and Luckman, and five San Francisco architects, Gardner Dailey, Vernon DeMars/Joseph Esherick/Ernest Kump, Weihe, Frick and Kruse, John Funk/Kitchen and Hunt, and Warnecke and Warnecke. The last firm, operated by father-and-son tandem, Carl I. Warnecke (1891-1971) and John Carl Warnecke (1919-2010), won the competition.

The site selected was first occupied by shingled, Queen Anne Style houses, four of them built before 1894 at 2401, 2417, 2419, 2425 Channing. By 1911, single family residences stood at 2401, 2417, 2419, 2425 and 2427 Channing Way; two sets of flats were built facing Dana Street close to Durant Avenue, and a residence was erected at 2400 Durant, two flats at 2402 and 2404 Durant, two flats at 2416 and 2418 Durant (and a residence at 2420 behind 2416-2418), two flats at 2420 and 2422 Durant, and single-family dwellings at 2430 and 2434 and 2438 Durant.

Building Notes

An historic resource evaluation prepared in 2013 by Page & Turnbull, Incorporated, described the Unit 3 Complex: "Unit 3 Housing is located on an approximately 300’ x 425’ rectangular parcel on a through-lot between Durant Street and Channing Way, between Dana Street and Telegraph Avenue. Constructed between 1961 and 1964, Unit 3 Housing is a complex of four nine-story-over-basement Residence Halls that face inward toward a one-story-over-basement Commons Building at the center of the parcel. Ida Sproul Hall is located on the west side, paralleling Dana Street; Norton Hall is located in the northwest corner, paralleling Durant Avenue; Spens-Black Hall is located in the northeast corner, paralleling Durant Avenue; and Priestley Hall is located in the southeast corner, paralleling Channing Way. Aside from Spens-Black Hall, much of the site is raised on a plinth from the street level and is enclosed with concrete walls. Thus, the basement levels of the other three buildings are partially above-ground." (See Page and Turnbull, Incorporated, UC Berkeley Unit 3 Housing Historic Resource Evaluation, Berkeley, California, Final Draft, 04/19/2013, [San Francisco: Page and Turnbull, Incorporated, 2013].) Landscaped courtyards were placed among the towers, and a sand volleyball court was constructed near the Commons Building.

PCAD id: 21486