RATCLIFF transforms top floor of Berkeley campus’ Barrows Hall into “extraordinary space…lean, open and efficient” for 21st century collaboration.
Social Science Matrix is UC Berkeley’s new flagship center for social science research, now housed in a light filled gathering space designed for the digital age by RATCLIFF architects of Emeryville, California. “The name Matrix says a lot about us, if not all of it,” said Professor William Hanks, Director of Social Science Matrix, in welcoming remarks at the center’s opening gala on January 30.
“We’re here to provide a flexible and dynamic environment for Berkeley social science. There is a tremendous and largely unknown network of interactions that we intend to catalyze,” he said.
The center was designed to support social-science research that enables Berkeley to stay at the forefront of disciplines like economics, political science, and sociology, particularly as there has been a major shift in the social sciences following the rise of digital technologies and the explosion of data.
RATCLIFF conducted a feasibility study of the 8th floor, historically the Lipman Room conference space, to determine how the Matrix program might be served. To the existing 5,200 square foot space the architects added a new 750 square foot mezzanine with modern and functional spaces to meet program requirements. The original tall volume had special design considerations for partition framing. Generous glass end walls at conference and seminar rooms allow natural daylight to fully enter the spaces.
William Blessing, principal architect for the project, honored requests to save the original wood paneling, to which was added a large matching wood partition as a focal point fixed wall. “With the original wood paneling and panoramic views to the Berkeley campus and San Francisco Bay, the center captures not only the spirit of the original Lipman Room but the idealistic vitality of its new occupants,” he said.
“This is an extraordinary space,” said UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, addressing 200 faculty, graduate students and administrators attending the opening. “It’s very exciting to see it come alive for the kind of social science that Berkeley continues to do here, nationally and across the globe.”
Headquartered in Northern California and in continuous operation since 1906, RATCLIFF provides architecture, master planning, interior design and sustainability consulting services to academic, healthcare and civic clients throughout the Western United States. RATCLIFF is architect of the LEED Gold Certified Berkeley School of Law, the Physical Science and Engineering Center at Foothill College, and the LEED Platinum Certified Media and Learning Center at DeAnza College. RATCLIFF is the recipient of the Firm of the Year award from the American Institute of Architects, California Council. Visit ratcliffarch.com.