About the Plan
About the Plan
Historical Significance
Implementation Concepts
Landscape Guidelines
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The Landscape Heritage Plan is the third in a series of planning documents that will guide campus planning and design for generations to come. Preceded by the New Century Plan and the Landscape Master Plan, which lay out a comprehensive vision for campus buildings and open space, this plan examines the key characteristics of the historic Classical Core and provides guidance for its continued development in a manner that respects and builds upon its unique landscape legacy.

Beginning with the picturesque framework established in the 1870s by Frederick Law Olmsted, overlaid with the dominant classical forms and axes of John Galen Howard's master plan of 1914, and interlaced with the modern interventions of Thomas Church in the mid-20th century; the Berkeley campus embodies the skillful integration of America's most significant landscape design movements. The Landscape Heritage Plan presents the history of this unique collage of styles, and offers future designers a rich palette of choices to build upon this design tradition with respect for the past and creative innovation for the future. In doing so, the plan recognizes the importance of the landscape as the connective fabric of the Classical Core, which transforms the campus into a community across both space and time.

I encourage all who read this plan to consider how you can support its intention, whether through your work, your generosity, or by simply sharing in the delight of a more enlightened appreciation of the campus's distinctive beauty. We look forward to working with all of you, to realize the possibilities revealed in this plan and continue Berkeley's long tradition of distinctive leadership in shaping the campus environment.

The University would particularly like to acknowledge the Getty Grant Program for its generous support of this plan through a Campus Heritage Grant.

Robert M. Berdahl
Chancellor, University of California, Berkeley (1997-2004)
June 2004

FOREWORD  ( Back to Top )

It is with great pleasure that the National Park Service Historic Landscape Initiative (HLI) provide this preface to the UC Berkeley Landscape Heritage Plan. The Berkeley campus, which began as a 160-acre campus site in 1858, is one of the jewels in the University of California system. With many of its buildings already listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and nearly 150 years of significant landscape architectural commissions reflected in the campus landscape today, UC Berkeley was an ideal candidate for deeper research, evaluation, planning and design. This process, whose findings are reflected in this Landscape Heritage Plan, is a critical step for UC Berkeley. When this plan is utilized in concert with the New Century Plan and other planning tools recently developed by the campus, this work will position the University to balance the myriad issues in safeguarding its natural and cultural resource legacies which today span over 1,200 contiguous acres and serve 33,000 students annually.

When considered in this context, the commitment of time and resources provided by the UC Berkeley campus takes on increased import. As identified by the project team of historians, landscape architects, planners and architects, the Berkeley campus today represents three distinct periods of development -- and as illustrated by the Landscape Heritage Plan it is this commitment to a solid research and analysis foundation that may serve as an example for other campuses to follow.

As a result of this planning process, it is now possible to recognize that if an individual designer's contributions are overlooked or not valued (such as the limited historical value that was previously placed on Thomas Church's UC Berkeley contributions), character defining landscape features may be subject to inappropriate alterations or removal. The Berkeley Landscape Heritage Plan is an important step in reversing this trend by making the palimpsest of these landscape designs and their shapers visible -- and in doing so will yield a holistic stewardship ethic for campus planners and managers today. We applaud the efforts of all of those involved in this study and look forward to seeing how future planning, design and management projects are realized at Berkeley and other campuses that may benefit from this work.

Charles A. Birnbaum, FASLA, FAAR
Coordinator, Historic Landscape Initiative
National Park Service, Washington, DC
June 2004

PURPOSE OF THE PLAN  ( Back to Top )

Ansel Adams, Campanile, Tree, Path, 1966, Fiat Lux Collection, California Museum of Photography, University of California, Riverside.

The University of California, Berkeley's magnificent setting orients the campus to the Golden Gate, forming a symbolic association with America's heritage of westward expansion. With its nearly 150-year history, the campus exhibits a rich layering of natural and designed landscape systems. The natural backdrop of rolling hills, the sinuous character of Strawberry Creek, the broad greens of the Central Glade, and the geometry of the historic core present a remarkable backdrop for an educational institution of higher learning. At the campus's center lies the iconic beaux-arts Classical Core, the focus of the Landscape Heritage Plan.

The Landscape Heritage Plan (LHP) embodies the University's effort to preserve the historic legacy of the Classical Core. As the premier public university in the world, our mission is to deliver programs of instruction, research, and public service of exceptional quality to the State of California. A critical aspect of supporting the UC mission is the enhancement of the quality of life on campus. The University is providing for the continued stewardship of its significant cultural landscape resources through research, documentation, and planning based on the standards of the National Park Service Historic Landscape Initiative. The Plan provides a framework and guidance to ensure a successful balance between historic preservation and the need to accommodate improvements of a growing and changing educational institution.

The LHP is distinctive in addressing an entire historic area of a campus, rather than a single site. The Classical Core includes a multitude of landscapes reflecting a century and a half of American landscape design styles and the theories that informed them. The scale of documentation and analysis involved in this effort provides a significant example in the study of cultural landscapes. Because universities across the country face similar situations of accommodating new improvements within historic settings, the LHP is intended to serve as a model for other campuses with valued cultural landscapes.


Illustrative campus landscape plan, including significant open space elements and building placement, from UC Berkeley's Landscape Master Plan (2004).

A cultural landscape is defined as a "geographic area, including both cultural and natural resources, associated with a historic event, activity, or person or exhibiting other cultural or aesthetic values" (The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Places, 1996). Like historic buildings and districts, these special places reveal aspects of our country's origins and development through their forms, features, and use. The Classical Core reflects the values and expressions of three important eras in American architecture and landscape architecture. The overlapping and intertwining of the picturesque, beaux-arts, and modern eras yield a rich and diverse dialogue of formal design languages. The Classical Core's landscape gains its power to the extent that these three layers "meet" each other and coexist.

The fortuitous combination of UC Berkeley's original landscape context, and the efforts of campus planners of three eras who engaged the work of their predecessors, has made the Classical Core an international example of successful "collage" - the work of prior layers deliberately retained and successional layers emerging. As the University's educational needs and campus development evolve, this layering of landscape design and intervention continues.

STUDY PROCESS  ( Back to Top )

Study Areas Diagram

The LHP began with extensive research of nine study areas within the Classical Core, chosen by the campus as representative landscapes for this plan. The research documented the physical development of the landscape, focusing on human interaction with, and modification to, the natural landscape over time. Historic assessments and a chronology developed from the research were analyzed in the context of the extant campus landscape, resulting in suggested treatments for the study areas and an identification of the periods of significance for the Classical Core. The historic assessment evaluation was then applied to two case studies. These case studies assessed historic values with current campus needs, yielding conceptual designs for future implementation. Finally, a comprehensive set of design guidelines was developed to address the future needs for site planning, design, and maintenance programs on campus. The guidelines address spatial compositions of site elements within the Classical Core, preserving and respecting the historic qualities in this notable area of the campus.

SCOPE OF THE PLAN  ( Back to Top )

View of the Campanile from the Mining Circle (ca. 1914). Courtesy Picturing Berkeley - A Postcard History.

The LHP provides direction to the University administration, planning and design staff, and design consultants for landscape rehabilitation and enhancements within the Classical Core. The Plan is intended to inform the landscape design process in the assessment and application of cultural landscape values for the development of site improvements. It is also valuable as an overview for the philanthropic community who will in large measure enable the initiatives to become a reality.

Due to the Classical Core's significant cultural landscape value, the landscape design process requires an understanding of the particular cultural resource, determined through an assessment process, prior to developing a design concept. Consistent with this approach, the LHP is organized as follows:

About the Plan:
Presents a summary of the Plan and its purpose

Historical Significance:
Illustrates the campus's historical significance in the context of American campus design in addition to the historic chronology

Implementation Concepts:
Describes the cultural landscape assessment process and its application in two model areas of the Classical Core

Landscape Guidelines:
Provides design guidelines for site planning and landscape design in the Classical Core


The LHP is the fourth and final step in a series of strategic planning documents designed to guide University growth and development over the next 50 years. Completed in 2002, the first two documents, the Strategic Academic Plan (SAP) and the New Century Plan (NCP), direct academic growth and establish a comprehensive strategy for the University's capital investment program, respectively. The Landscape Master Plan (LMP), completed in 2003, presents a broad physical framework for the use and treatment of open space within the entire central campus. The LHP focuses on the cultural landscape, and associated landscape improvements, within the Classical Core.

CONTACT US  (Back to Top )

Steven Finacom
Planning Analyst/Historian
Physical and Environmental Planning
E-mail: sfinacom @ cp.berkeley.edu