Missing Berkeley

•April 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I love Madison, but there are those moments when very vivid, brief and fleeting memories of our time in Berkeley come to mind, and I would give anything to be there again – if only for a brief visit.

I think its the architectural character of the Berkeley hills that I miss the most – being able to walk through those amazing neighborhoods was definitely a highlight of the Berkeley experience.  Though Madison may sometimes be referred to as the ‘Berkeley of the midwest,’ the residential character of Madison is a far cry from the seemingly endless, meandering, and often breath-taking quality of the Berkeley hills.  Maybe its age, maybe its fiscal, maybe its the climate, or maybe the grass is always greener – but whatever the case, the residential fabric of Berkeley is something to aspire to.

To be fair, there are certainly bits and pieces of Madison’s near-west and near-east sides that share some neighborhood quality in common with Berkeley, yet the biggest difference is not just the old Berkeley, but moreso in the way that newer modern architecture is folded into and around the city.  We certainly have our share of contemporary residences in Madison, but they’re usually an anomaly and tend to stand out like a sore thumb (which is often the goal – consciously or otherwise).  What I respected most about the ‘nouveau Berkeley’ homes was their ability to seamlessly fit in with the fabric of the older homes, even though the architectural style may be radically different from the neighboring context.

I also enjoyed the walkability of  the Berkeley hills – and the fact that you could get lost there – wandering up some steep, curvy side street that opened into a tiny neighborhood park.  Wandering through the park, you notice a tiny staircase leading to another tier of the park with dappled light from a tree-lined boulevard featuring a series of gorgeous houses perched overlooking a deep valley with glimpses of the bay between the trees…. on and on it goes.

While the residential character of Berkeley wins big versus Madison, imho, I personally like Madison’s downtown experience quite a bit more.  I won’t compare Telegraph to State, but I never experienced a sense of urban ‘center’ in Berkeley the way I do in and around Madison’s capitol square.  There were smaller enclaves or sub-centers in Berkeley (Madison has those as well), but no singular, identifiable zone you could point to and say ‘this is Berkeley’ – the way you can in downtown Madison.  I’m not doing a very good job articulating this with words – and it might simply be that I didn’t visit the right places, but I find Madison’s downtown much more pleasant and identifiable – more of a sense of singular ‘place’ than I ever discovered in Berkeley.

I let my rambling thoughts turn what should have been a simple post into this meandering comparison – but all I meant to say was – even though it may be unseasonably warm (75 and sunny!) here in Madison, a Lanesplitter pizza, a tall glass of Jupiter IPA and a walk through the Berkeley hills would sure hit the spot right about now.


West Berkeley

•May 23, 2007 • 1 Comment

More from a brief lunch-walk around the neighborhood. I need to bring my better camera, these are pretty crumby. =/

Walking Berkeley @ Channing

•May 22, 2007 • Leave a Comment

The close-knit and often stark juxtaposition of industry, commercial, and residential really makes the west side of Berkeley a site to behold, unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Within a reasonable walking distance from where I work, I can find at least 15 architecture firms, an exquisite antiques import shop, a greasy machine shop with engine blocks piled 5 or 6 high, a Saki factory, a steel foundry, high tech business, low tech businesses, stinky businesses, businesses that smell wonderful, photovoltaic retailers, landscape architects, painters, sculptors, 150 year old houses, photography studios, highest end retail, Indian food, Mexican food….

Ok, I’m starting to see illustrative value in building a definitive list of the places within walking distance of my job, so I’m going to stop listing these for now, and find a more authoratative source to help build this list. Help me out here Mark! =)

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Walking UC Berkeley, again

•February 26, 2007 • Leave a Comment

UC Berkeley, with a visit to the place where they teach architecture…

Walking Thousand Oaks, Arlington Area

•February 25, 2007 • 1 Comment

This walk, like all of our walks so far, was a random and spontaneous path of discovery. Part of the testament to the character of this area is the fact that we can walk just about any direction ‘into the hills’ and have a journey of discovery, surprise and inspiration. There is such a magnitude of visual density that each footstep could easily be accompanied by a new photograph of unique urban, architectural and landscape character.

These photos aren’t intended to be high quality in composition or resolution, but are brief ‘walk-by’ shots – often taken, literally, while walking.

So far, we’ve been seeking random destinations and trying to get lost. Our route twists and turns, and we take short-cuts pathways between buildings, walkways cutting through parks, etc.

These photos describe a 45 minute journey through the Thousand Oaks, Arlington area in the Berkeley Hills.

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Walking Telegraph, UC Berkeley

•February 20, 2007 • 1 Comment

Everywhere we go in the Berkeley area, phenomenal architecture surrounds us. I sincerely hope my photos of residences doesn’t invade anyone’s privacy, or be perceived as invasive. My goal is to honor and document the diversity of quality and detail found in this area. Also, please keep in mind that the purpose in posting these is not to showcase photography skills. My handheld camera doesn’t have the best resolution, and I want to be as quick and descrete in taking them as possible.

My goal is simply to assemble a collage of photographs which capture the architectural and urban essence, or fabric of the Berkeley or East Bay area. As a new resident of this area, I want to explore this incredible city-scape, using this blog as a way of documenting my journeys, and sharing those experiences with anyone else interested.

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Walking Near Marin & Arch, into Tilden Park

•February 19, 2007 • 4 Comments

Walking 4th, Allston Way to Albany Hill

•January 23, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Slideshow HERE

This area features a juxtposition of residential, high end retail, heavy industry, warehouses, offices, etc. You name it, its on 4th between Allston and Pierce.

Walking Solano, College

•January 22, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Hi! With this blog, I hope to document the architectural and urban fabric of the Berkeley area.

Today, we walked the neighborhood surrounding Barklay’s, near the border of Berkely and Oakland (and Emeryville I believe), followed by a walk down Solano in Albany.