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Case Studies 

Berkeley Hills




Contributed by 
Paula Balciunaite
Project for Public Spaces
March 24, 2006
December 14, 2017

A residential neighborhood with notable architecture, secret pedestrian shortcuts and public parks.

What makes it Great?

Why it doesn't work?

The Berkeley Hills neighborhood offers spectacular vistas of the San Francisco Bay, scenic wooden enclaves, famous residential architecture (notably by Bernard Maybeck), a lush and gorgeous network of curving streets, pedestrian shortcuts, and secret routes, and a vibrant intellectual community.

Access & Linkages

A celebrated feature of architecture in Berkeley Hills is the symbiotic relationship with its leafy, wooden landscape. Houses and cottages are built with simple, natural materials (such as unpainted wooden shingles), streets follow the natural contours of the land, meticulously landscaped gardens and multi-level decks abound with flowers such as orchids and white roses. Much of the neighborhood is accessible by foot from the Berkeley campus; in fact, the pedestrian experience is sublime.

Comfort & Image

Romantic cottages decked out with the latest interior and technological amenities, in a hillside setting, evoke the impression of modern idyll. The neighborhood seems (and is) warm, comfortable, and very safe. Many residents seem to have a penchant for cars of European make.

Uses & Activities

The residential areas in the neighborhood are relatively free of tourists, although many non-locals are attracted to scenic parks (Tilden, Cordonices) and places like the Rose and Botanical Gardens, Indian Rock, and Greenwood Commons.


The social ambiance is bright and cheerful, much like the neighborhood. The majority of the residents are Berkeley faculty and graduate students, and this generates a strong sense of community.

How Light?

How Quick?

How Cheap?

History & Background

Related Links & Sources

Berkeley Hills
Berkeley Hills
One of the area's peaceful public parks.
Berkeley Hills
Berkeley Hills
Berkeley Hills
Berkeley Hills
Berkeley Hills
Berkeley Hills

*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.


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