The nonarchitect’s noncomprehensive selection of cool buildings on campus

Edwin Cho/Staff
Edwin Cho/File

Most of us here at the Clog aren’t architects — in fact, none of us are — but we know a good building when we see one. Just as one does not have to be a recognized food critic to know what a good sandwich tastes like — a good sandwich is just a good sandwich — quality is universally recognized. Sorry that this isn’t another succulent Eating Berkeley post: It’s really just us trying to flesh out what it means to enjoy some good architecture. UC Berkeley has some buildings that look downright elegant. But hey, we don’t make buildings over here at the Clog, so we’re going to do our best to explain the most appealing aesthetic elements of UC Berkeley’s buildings in nonarchitectural jargon.

The Campanile

Andrew Kuo/File

Andrew Kuo/File

What a classic. Everyone knows exactly what you’re talking about when you say, “Meet me at the Campanile.” It’s universal, it’s timeless and it’s approximately 22 feet taller (and better) than Stanford’s Hoover Tower. It’s really quite pretty. Google told us that the Campanile was constructed in Gothic Revival style, but if we had to describe it, we would say it is “large-brick chic” – the most fashionable of clock towers. The Campanile is apparently also the third-largest bell tower in the world, at 94 meters high (that’s 307 freedom units for the rest of us.)

Hearst Memorial Mining Building

Hearst Memorial Mining Building, Univ of California, Berkeley

To start off, this building is just plain pretty. We remember that, while on that generic tour that most freshmen receive anywhere from two to five times in their introductory period to the school, we froze in front of this building for a little bit when we saw it. Hearst Memorial Mining Building displays the beauty of upper-level academia without all the ugly parts, like the unhealthy meal portioning or the staying up all night to study for some math quiz. It’s that academic building that campus tour guides purposely bring prospective students and parents to, just because they know that the tour group will be suddenly erupt into a fit of whispers: “This is exactly the type of white-marbled institution that I hoped my 97th-percentile SAT score would qualify me for.”

Doe Library

Michael Drummond/File

Michael Drummond/File

We don’t know if you’ve noticed, because you usually enter the building in a hasty manner and make a sharp left for Main Stacks, but our library is actually stunning. What always catches our eyes when we get close to the library is the head of Athena residing dutifully over the front entrance . Honestly, having a head mounted in front of your establishment is, on paper, quite a repulsive idea. It’s like the equivalent of those hillbilly wall decorations that feature the deer-in-the-headlights look on an actual deer. It should be tacky, it should be really weird, but by Jove — or should we say Zeus — it works so well.

Truthfully, we haven’t met a building at UC Berkeley that we haven’t liked. They’re all so interesting, different and iconic in their own ways. We would equate building-watching at UC Berkeley to a trip to Baskin-Robbins — there are more than 31 buildings, and they’re all worth a try.

Image Sources: Sanfranman59 under Creative Commons

Contact Uday Suresh at [email protected].