Friday, October 28, 2011

State-of-the-Art Science and Architecture combine for a World-Class Downtown

Erin Rhoades is a professional city planner and lifelong Berkeley resident. Ms. Rhoades' planning interests are focused on infill development and sustainability. Erin is a founding Board member of Livable Berkeley and the Board Chair.

The Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences/
University of California, Berkeley

The Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences, dedicated last week, stands at the nexus of downtown Berkeley and the University of California, Berkeley campus. The center is symbolic of a vision, not just for UC Berkeley, but the community as a whole. This building is the eighth of twelve stem cell research facilities funded in part by CIRM to open its doors (read more about CIRM's major facilities).

From the standpoint of design, the building incorporates a range of environmental features. The materials and energy efficiency are state-of-the-art, including a living roof. Architecturally, the center incorporates contemporary design and finish into a space surrounded by structures of historic significance and natural green space.

These design features are thoroughly consistent with the Downtown Area Plan's (DAP) goals for LEED Gold or equivalent development with outwardly visible sustainable design features that display innovation in green architecture in the context of a downtown with a predominanlty historic character.

Robert Birgeneau,
Chancellor of UC Berkeley,
at the dedication ceremony
Inside, the center will be home to student scientists at every level of education working to tackle emerging and neglected diseases of national and international significance. The flexible and open design will facilitate collaboration among these teams.

The $257 million facility, which received $20 million from CIRM, was financed through an innovative public private partnership involving state bond funds, individual donors and foundations. This model of combining public investment with private funds serves to leverage tax dollars and accelerate benefits to taxpayers.

Innovative funding approaches, like those used to construct the Li Ka Shing Center and the other CIRM major facilities, will be required in Berkeley to achieve the magnitude of investment necessary for high-density infill development and at the same time to accomplish the affordable housing component, community benefits and streetscaping called for in the DAP.

The combination of creating state-of-the-art development, supporting the knowledge (“imagined in California”) economy through public / private financing is an important model for the City of Berkeley. As we move into the 21st century, Berkeley should build on these success stories and support development that builds on this innovative model.

Development in downtown Berkeley should look for ways to showcase the best thinking in progressive environmental design and urban culture. Buildings like the Li Ka Shing Center and the David Brower Center, including their programmatic functions, exemplify Livable Berkeley's advocacy for a "world class" downtown. Our hope is that the Downtown Area Plan will result in the next building that defines Berkeley not for where it's been, but where it's going.

Erin Rhoades


  1. "Deadly Monopolies": Medical Ethicist Harriet Washington on How Firms are Taking Over Life Itself

    One of the major themes raised by the Occupy movement is the increasing power of large corporations over more and more aspects of our lives. We spend the hour looking into the issue of the corporate control of life itself. Our guest, Harriet Washington, is a medical ethicist and has just published a book that examines the extent to which what she calls the medical-industrial complex has come to control human life. In the past 30 years, more than 40,000 patents have been granted on genes alone—many more patents are pending. Washington argues that the biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies patenting these genes are more concerned with profit than with the health or medical needs of patients. Her new book is called "Deadly Monopolies: The Shocking Corporate Takeover of Life Itself—And the Consequences for Your Health and Our Medical Future." [includes rush transcript–partial]

  2. The Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences will be a world center for the advancement of healing.

    California deserves thanks and praise for voting YES on Proposition 71, the Golden State's great stem cell program.

    My father Dr. Charles Reed got his doctorate from UC Berkeley; my son Roman Reed graduated from Berkeley, city of my birth.

    But my pride in beautiful Berkely has never soared so high as in the dedication of Li Ka Shing building.

    Disease and disability will be attacked systematically.

    Thank you, Li Ka Shing. And thank You, California.

    Don C. Reed