Mining Circle/ Oppenheimer Way
About the Plan
Historical Significance
Implementation Concepts
Mining Circle/ Oppenheimer Way
Campanile Way/ Sather Road
Landscape Guidelines
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The Mining Circle (1914) was named in conjunction with the Hearst Memorial Mining Building (1902-07) and built seven years later. The Circle is the eastern terminus of the Central Glade, the campus's primary open space and visual axis toward the Golden Gate. Connecting to the Mining Circle on a north-south axis, Oppenheimer Way is associated with Gilman Hall (1917) and LeConte Hall (1923). This north-south axis plays an important role as it connects the formal Central Glade axis to the sinuous character of Strawberry Creek.

Context map for Mining Circle/Oppenheimer Way.

Cultural Landscape Assessment  (Back to Top )
Summarized at the end of this page, the cultural landscape assessment describes the significant cultural landscape features of Mining Circle/ Oppenheimer Way.

The Mining Circle and Hearst Memorial Mining Building (ca 1914).

Site Landscape Assessment  (Back to Top )
The site landscape assessment below provides a site description and identifies the current and future use of Mining Circle/Oppenheimer Way. (Note: limited information was available for Oppenheimer Way).

Site Description
The Mining Circle area is comprised of a sloping plaza framed on the north by the Hearst Memorial Mining Building, on the east by the planned Stanley Hall Replacement Building, on the west by Evans Hall, and on the south by the north facades of Pimentel Hall, Tan Hall, and Campbell Hall. The Mining Circle proper is limited to the circular pool, lawn area, and the encircling roadway of the original design. Oppenheimer Way currently connects the Mining Circle to the south, between Tan Hall and Campbell Hall, with a sloping corridor that intersects with South Road on the north bank of Strawberry Creek.

Current Uses and Patterns of Activities
The current use of the Mining Circle is construction staging for the new Stanley Hall replacement project. The character of the space is still intact with the outer form of the Circle and the circular pool protected under the construction trailers.

The current use of Oppenheimer Way is pedestrian circulation space and construction staging. The way provides an important physical and visual link between the Mining Circle and Strawberry Creek.

Desired (Future) Uses and Patterns of Activities
The New Century Plan calls for the restoration of the Mining Circle and replacement of Evans and Campbell Halls. Two small pavilion buildings, replacing Evans Hall, are planned to open the view corridor overlooking the Central Glade and to the Golden Gate beyond. A new building will replace Campbell Hall in its existing location.

The New Century Plan calls for the restoration of the Oppenheimer axis to a pedestrian corridor, creating an attractive landscape framing views and serving as an appropriate forecourt to the adjacent buildings.

John Galen Howard's illustrative of the Mining Circle (ca. 1914).

Preliminary Strategies of Treatment  (Back to Top )
Based on the cultural and site landscape assessments, the overall treatment strategies recommended for Mining Circle/Oppenheimer Way are restoration and rehabilitation, respectively (refer to treatment definitions on the Methodology page). The treatment strategy for the Mining Circle includes the following steps:
  • Restore the extant historical fabric. John Galen Howard's drawings, along with historical photographs, provide guidance for the restoration.
  • Reconstruct the key missing elements of the original design, in particular the reflecting pool from the beaux-arts period of significance that remained intact through the 1990s.
  • Incorporate Howard's beaux-arts design elements, including the diameter of the Circle, topographic design implications, the framed viewshed to the Golden Gate, and a crescent shaped planter bed on the upper end framing the large round lawn panel.
The treatment strategy for Oppenheimer Way is a comprehensively planned landscape design for the entire corridor, prioritizing the space for pedestrian use. The Thomas Church construction documents (ca. 1964) provide guidance for the overall design. The treatment strategy for rehabilitation includes the following steps:
  • Replace the two Church planted Pittosporum (Mock oranges) in front of LeConte Hall with trees of appropriate scale for the building and related space. From Church's drawings, it appears they were intended to be contained vertical accent entry statements instead of large canopies.
  • Replace the Syzygium (Eugenias), considered poor specimens, in front of Gilman Hall.
  • Planter beds per the Church era will be retained, between Gilman and LeConte Halls, and affirm predominant pedestrian access.
  • Incorporate the rustic wall interface at Strawberry Creek into the overall design.
  • Establish a generous oval planter to prevent through vehicular traffic.
Illustrative Design Concept  (Back to Top )
The following images illustrate a possible design concept for the Mining Circle/Oppenheimer Way based on the cultural and site landscape assessments and preliminary strategies of treatment.

Mining Circle/Oppenheimer Way Concept

  1. Restore the pool and incorporate crescent-shaped path, low ground cover, and lawn on western slope.
  2. Unify the entire space with consistent paving material and flush condition between vehicular and pedestrian areas. Incorporate low bollards to delineate travel way.
  3. On north and northeast sides, plant pollarded London Plane Trees to reinforce the square form of the plaza and use large coniferous, evergreen trees at corners of buildings.
  4. On south and southwest sides, plant pollarded London Plane Trees to reinforce plaza form, and create an allee with broadleaf evergreen trees adjacent to buildings.
  5. Plant broadleaf evergreen trees in single rows to strengthen view corridor to the creek along Oppenheimer Way.
  6. Rehabilitate the Church design using landscape forms suitable for the site context. Incorporate low bollards at intersection of South Road to restrict vehicular access.
  7. Restore the Church sitting area with low ground cover in an oval planter and open views to 1910 bridge and Faculty Glade.

The design concept retains the historic form of the Mining Circle and center pool, and unifies the public space with a consistent paving treatment, creating a pedestrian plaza throughout.