Tuesday, September 27, 2011

First Church of Christ, Scientist, Berkeley.

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, is located on the northeast corner of Dwight and Bowditch in Berkeley, on the edge of the UC Berkeley campus.

This is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful buildings that I have seen in California. I've included more pictures than usual because none of them captured the whole essence of the building. I strongly suggest a trip out to see this building since my pictures do not do it justice.

This church was designed by Bernard Maybeck and is considered by many to be his masterpiece. It was built in 1910 in the middle of an established residential neighborhood that has been demolished to make room for buildings owned by the university. This building regularly appears in architectural anthologies and on lists of architectural achievements in the Bay Area, as well as in the US. The design fuses local and common materials in a blend of Japanese, Gothic, and Romanesque architectural styles and uses plants and greenery to add another layer of depth to the overall presentation.

The congregation has met here since 1910 and, when the university began acquiring properties in the surrounding neighborhood to begin expanding the campus, the congregants joined with the local residents to gain National Landmark Status for the building so that it would not be destroyed. This is the only building in the city of Berkeley to have been designated a National Landmark.

This building is one of my all time favorites. It's hard to describe why I think it's so neat. It is so imaginative and unique that it feels out of place in the heart of Berkeley, with People's Park directly across Bowditch and students wandering all over the place. Once again, go check this building out.

Getting There By Bike...
Assuming that you're starting from the Shattuck/Downtown Berkeley area, simply ride east on Dwight Ave. towards the campus and you can't miss it. Keep in mind that there is a fair amount of traffic on the streets surrounding the campus, and that students, intent as they are on filling their heads with knowledge (which is what we all did in college I'm sure) are not the best at using crosswalks or paying attention to traffic. A bell might be helpful.

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