UC Berkeley hosts virtual toast to honor Bauer Wurster Hall reaffirmation

Photo of Wurster Hall
Sam Albillo/File
UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design building, Wurster Hall, was renamed as Bauer Wurster Hall in honor of both Catherine Bauer Wurster and William Wurster. Although the structure was previously named solely after William Wurster, both Bauer Wurster and her husband contributed to creating the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design in the 1950s.

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UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ and UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design, or CED, Dean Vishaan Chakrabarti hosted a virtual toast Wednesday to celebrate the renaming of the CED’s Wurster Hall to Bauer Wurster Hall in honor of Catherine Bauer Wurster and William Wurster.

The toast featured a presentation by the CED’s Environmental Design Archives curator Chris Marino on Bauer Wurster’s life and work. Marino emphasized Bauer Wurster’s role as a pioneer in the future of public housing and racial and social equity. The toast also included a discussion with four members of the campus 150 Years of Women At Berkeley, or 150W, committee.

“This is absolutely about historical equity, but it’s also about how we look forward in terms of the issues in which Catherine Bauer was a pioneer,” Chakrabarti said at the event. “For us, this is both about looking back and looking forward.”

After the toast by Chakrabarti and Christ, Marino presented a history of Bauer’s life, touching on her undergraduate years at Vassar College, her book “Modern Housing” and the Housing Act of 1937 that it lobbied for. Marino also talked about Bauer Wurster’s years as a lecturer in city planning at both the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare and Harvard University, as well as her work with the UC Berkeley Department of City and Regional Planning.

Though the building was previously named in honor of Bauer Wursters’ husband, William Wurster, both Bauer Wurster and Wurster played a role in creating UC Berkeley’s CED in the 1950s, according to Marino.

Marino added that Bauer Wurster’s final contribution to the CED was its first long-range plan, an effort led by Bauer Wurster to “rethink the institutional structure of the college.”

In a discussion with the 150W members, Chakrabarti said the CED undergraduate population consists of 41% first-generation college students.

Briana Kaler, a campus ambassador and first-generation CED undergraduate student, said changing the name of Wurster Hall will have an impact on prospective students. She noted that it will give them the ability to see how the contributions of women are valued at UC Berkeley and that they too might have an impact on campus.

“Here’s to Catherine Bauer Wurster and the ideals for which she fought, may they be central to the college in the decades ahead,” Christ said at the event.

Contact Anishi Patel at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anishipatel.