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Coordinates: 37°52′14″N 122°15′18″W 37.8705066, -122.2548696

Wurster Hall

  • Built in 1964
  • College of Environomental Design (Architecture, Landscape Architecture, City Planning)


  • Non-architecture majors love poking fun at Wurster Hall, the CED building, for the irony of the ugliest building on campus being home to the architecture department. However, as mentioned above, Wurster Hall is not the ugliest building on campus. That's not to say that it isn't ugly, but it does have its redeeming qualities. Such as functionality.[1]
  • Wurster was designed to minimize energy costs. That is why every window has one of those sun shades over it. They work to varying degrees of success depending on the time of the year. The studio tower has lovely views and is well lit and ventilated. [1]
  • For all its practical virtues, though, Wurster Hall was the most poorly designed building of all of Berkeley when it came to seismic safety. Basically, it would have been guaranteed to fall down if the Big One hit. In 2000, the building began a retrofit that is scheduled to be completed in 2003. Currently, the north side (tower) has been retrofitted and is now a good place to be when the ground gets shaky. Key elements of the retrofit include adding new classrooms and shear walls in the rear, and cylindrical steel columns in the large open studio rooms. These are designed to support the floor slabs if the perimetr columns peel off during an earthquake.[1]
  • Having not undergone the repainting that happened to sister buildings Evans and Barrows (sister only in that they have the common trait of starting their lives as ugly bare concrete buildings- they were actually designed by three different sad excuses of architects), Wurster is now the only bare concrete building on campus. After a hard rain, one will notice that the building's exterior will get significantly darker in the parts subject to the heaviest drenching. No reports of leaky roofs have been heard though.[1]
  • However, for those Wurster Hall fans out there, this building is best viewed at night. At night, when one by one the lights on campus wink out, the 9-story studio tower of Wurster Hall remains blazingly lit all night long. This is not for aesthetic purposes. It is for the purpose that there are architecture students slaving away all night on design projects. Unlike Soda Hall though, Wurster does not have showers, sofas, or kitchenettes. This is because architecture students don't shower, sleep, or eat. Well, some do, at the nearby Hearst Gym.[1]
  • In January 2003, one of four campus emergency sirens was installed on top of Wurster Hall. These sirens are tested at noon on the first Wednesday of every month.[1]
  • Fall of 2004 the Wurster Hall elevators have entered a dark age, and on many days only one of the two studio tower elevators works, and the other is painfully slow. This problem has not yet been resolved as of 2005.[1]
  • Places to Check Out:[1]
      1. Studio Tower Stairwell. Despite a recent spray media ban anda retrofit-related cleanup, this stairwell remains the most graffitied anything on campus. This is one place that Cal Clean Up Oski never goes. Work includes anti-Stanfurd sloganeering, poetry, political art, and just general randomness. Kind of like a bathroom, except on a much larger scale. The studio tower is the north tower. There are two stairwells, the front stairwell, near the elevators, and the rear stairwell, which is accessible only through the studios. The rear stairwell reeks of spray chemicals.
      2. Ramona's Cafe. Unlike the other three campus restaurants, Ramona's specializes in Italian food. Although this means the selection of other items is limited, the Italian food beats all other UC food hands down. On your right when you enter by the main entrance.
      3. 9th Floor West Balcony. A good place to watch the sunset. Crowded by visually-conscious CED students every sunset. The east balcony is used to watch sunrises- a religious experience after an all-nighter in the studio. Take north elevators.
      4. CED Library. Just renovated, the CED Library is a nice spacious place to study, and also has a collection of architecture related books and magazines thatwill make anyone interested in buildings drool without end. Located in the north end of Wurster.
      5. Architecture Shop. This giant wood, metal, and plastic working shop is where CED students build their models. Lots of free scrap wood available to anyone who wants it. Located in the back (east side) of Wurster.
      6. Spray booths. Following the building renovation, the CED decided they didn't want the place getting messed up by people spraypainting the floor, so spray materials were technically banned from the studios until the construction of spray booths. These spray booths are nonexistent as of yet, and stairwells and balconies are used instead.
      7. Outhouses. Located on top of the South wing and viewable from the studio tower, there are three mechanical structures on the roof that have been decorated to look like outhouses, down to the crescent moon on the door. They are used for testing energy performance of building materials.


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