‘Absolute eye candy’: UC Berkeley releases Campus Master Plan

photo of UC Berkeley
UC Berkeley Capital Strategies/Courtesy
The Campus Master Plan blueprints a campus expansion to prioritize alleviating the student housing crisis and reduce the campus’s ecological footprint.

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UC Berkeley’s Campus Master Plan lays out a green vision for a more sustainable and accessible campus that better accommodates current and future needs.

The plan — which operates alongside two other major campus planning documents, the Long Range Development Plan, or LRDP, and the Physical design framework — reimagines five key physical aspects of campus: the Central Glade area, Strawberry Creek, discovery and innovative spaces, campus life and campus cohesiveness.

“The 2022 Campus Master Plan is not a blueprint or a guarantee that all of these projects will happen, nor is it set in stone,” said UC Berkeley Capital Strategies spokesperson Kyle Gibson in an email. “The Campus Master Plan is conceptual and designed to be flexible.”

One aspect of strengthening the cohesiveness of the Central Glade — the area including the Hearst Mining Circle, Memorial Glade, West Circle and West Crescent — lies in replacing Evans Hall with the Central Glade Overlook. The building is designed to “nestle seamlessly” into the landscape with a roof that extends the green space of the Hearst Mining Circle, according to the plan.

To connect Evans Hall and Memorial Glade better, the currently underutilized area between the two spaces will become an outdoor gathering area, the plan adds. Additionally, it redesigns Central Drive to be more pedestrian-friendly and reforms the campus’s western entrance with better gathering spaces and underground parking in the West Crescent area.

“The new Campus Master Plan’s renderings are a beautiful vision of the future of Berkeley, and absolute eye candy for those who have long dreamed of A World Without Evans Hall,” said City Councilmember Rigel Robinson in an email.

The document also emphasizes enhancing the presence of Strawberry Creek with projects such as extending Lower Sproul Plaza with a new Chávez Plaza, building a Faculty Glade bridge, adding terraced steps to the West Oval Glade and transforming Wheeler Glade into a green gathering space. To create discovery and innovative spaces, the plan proposes creating academic neighborhoods with interdisciplinary spaces for interdepartmental collaboration.

The plan further addresses enhancing the campus life experience by emphasizing the southern edge of Campus Park as a “campus life corridor.” To do this, the plan proposes more open spaces, redeveloping the Cesar Chávez Student Center, enhancing College Avenue Plaza and expanding the Recreational Sport Facility.

Lastly, the plan aims to increase campus cohesiveness with mobility hubs to provide a network of transportation services around campus and expanded student housing, especially at the Clark Kerr Campus.

“Our dire student housing crisis is decades in the making,” Robinson said in the email. “The 2022 Campus Master Plan lays out a roadmap to making significant progress on our student housing goals.”

Campus approval for the 2022 master plan comes more than 17 years after the last approved plan, according to Gibson. The plan aligns closely with the 2021 LRDP in supporting campus priorities around housing, diversity and inclusion, student extracurricular spaces, climate change, transportation and research and instructional spaces.

Gibson stressed that the plan is meant to support current enrollment levels, not enrollment growth. He added the undergraduate student population is only expected to grow annually by 1% or less through 2037.

Cindy Liu is an academics and administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @_CindyLiu_.