Every day, there seems to be another news story about the dire state of higher education in California. With state government facing record deficits and the economy still struggling to recover, the University of California has been hard-hit with successive budget cuts. UC Berkeley, despite its status as the system’s flagship campus, has not been exempt from resource reductions and staff layoffs. Funding from the state’s general fund now accounts for only about one-fifth of Cal’s budget; for the first time ever, both the share of funds from philanthropic support and the share from student fees exceeded contributions from the state. We are indeed living in interesting times!
Despite these challenges, however, I am pleased to report that the College of Environmental Design has continued to build over the past year.
- We have established an outstanding CED Advisory Council, whose influential membership has embarked on helping the college expand our network of friends and supporters, improve our infrastructure, and insure the success of our signature events.
- Due to the generosity of our alumni, faculty emeriti, and long-time supporters, as well as ongoing support from the campus, we have been able to establish two new endowed chairs, embark on a major redesign of our fabrication shop, upgrade classrooms, and complete construction on the new CED Gallery.
- Now in the planning stages are a new Design Commons Studio, equipped with advanced visualization technologies designed for participatory planning and design, and new landscape designs for the north entrance of Wurster Hall, as well as its second-floor interior light court.
- Our faculty is growing: We welcomed two new members of the Architecture faculty — Assistant Professor Kyle Steinfeld and Professor Tom Buresh, who is serving as chair of the Architecture Department — and are now searching for three additional faculty members.
- On the staff side, we have been fortunate to attract talented new personnel to manage, improve, and expand our informational technology infrastructure, fabrication shop, CAD/CAM lab, and professional education programs.
- We successfully launched the CED Summer Institutes, a post-baccalaureate/pre-professional program with streams in architecture, landscape architecture and environmental planning, and sustainable city planning, which drew almost 180 students to the college last summer — and which we are planning to offer once again this coming summer.
The intellectual life of the college is also alive and well. We welcomed a dynamic group of visiting faculty this year. Our first Theodore and Doris Lee Distinguished Visiting Professorship was held by Cecilia Estolano, a lawyer and urban planner who served as CEO of the Los Angeles Redevelopment Agency and is currently with Green for All; the Esherick Professorship was held by the talented team of Carrie Meinberg Burke and Kevin Burke, both with distinguished practices in sustainable design; the Fall 2010 Friedman Professorship was held by famed Mexican architect Francisco Pardo; and this spring, we were honored to host Dan Wood and Amale Andraos of WORK Architecture. Major figures in our fields visited to lecture — Pierre Bélanger, Fritjof Capra, Xavier de Souza Briggs, Jeanne Gang, Genevieve Giuliano, Kathryn Gustafson, Dame Patsy Healey, Jerold Kayden, Martin Rein-Cano, David Serlin, Jeremy Till, and Michael Weinstock. And we launched a new Super Studio on Vertical Communities. Part of a five-year, ten-school competition hosted by the National University of Singapore, each year a cross-departmental studio will tackle a high-density community design program focused on a specific fast-growing Asian city and having a particular theme. This year’s studio, led by Professor Mark Anderson, focused on Chengdu, China, and grappled with the challenge of insuring that residents of high-density communities enjoy fresh air.
We also launched the Berkeley Circus, opening the doors of Wurster Hall and inviting distinguished visiting fellows to engage our students around their work. Our fellows reviewed studio design projects, listened to “lightning” research talks, evaluated poster sessions, conducted desk crits for undergraduate environmental design students, and offered the faculty their reflections and advice. Of course, we had fun too! There were student prizes, lively conversations, excellent food, and a final reception at the Oakland Museum of California, where attendees gathered to honor our 2011 Distinguished Alumni, be inspired by renowned architect-activist Teddy Cruz, and enjoy a private tour of museum galleries.
As noted, the CED Gallery project was just completed and will be ready for its grand opening this coming fall. We are delighted to inaugurate the gallery with a much-anticipated exhibit, curated by Professor Emeritus of Architecture Richard Peters and architect (and alumna) Caitlin Brostrom, on the residential architecture of William W. Wurster. Based on their book The Houses of William Wurster: Frames for Living (forthcoming from Princeton Architectural Press), the exhibit will offer materials that have never before been displayed, as well as original drawings by Wurster from the Environmental Design Archives. Look for an invitation in the mail, and we hope you will join us at this important opening event.