Sunday, November 7, 2010

Trader Joe's

 The New Californian, viewed from the southeast.

A comment below mentions the building at the southeast corner of MLK and University known informally as Trader Joe's*. Looking for a photo, I found a critique by Christopher Adams, who I believe used to be a planner with the University of California (if it's the same Chris Adams). He calls the building "a hippopotamus in a tutu," but I think it's much worse than that. (The photos in Adams' article don't fully capture the horror.) During the summer, I drove past it every morning on my way from the clinic. Perhaps it was the radiation, but the color of the building is especially off-putting. The juxtaposition of the monster at the corner and a sort of fake Swiss pseudo-addition to its north, apparently meant to reduce the gargantuan scale along MLK, counts as a true oddity. (This knock-off Swiss thing is also visible - even more risible - at the northeast corner of University and Sacramento. Is there a Swiss connection in Berkeley that I somehow missed?) The real crime of Trader Joe's is its bulk. I imagine it was justified as "urban," bringing it out the sidewalk. True enough - in 20 years, this will provide a modicum of grit: deteriorating plastic, as we used to call the sprayed-stucco wonders south of campus. Isn't this a city with design review? 

* Formally known as the New Californian, designed by Kirk Peterson, who's done better. (So far, this is his worst.)

The New Californian's "Swiss" mock-addition


  1. Ha ha, I was only thinking of the Trader Joes itself (Fred's Market and the feared traffic problem etc.), but on your view, still, you should notice that it fits in with the humungoid-totalitarian structure of the nearby and relatively recent Berkeley High additions.


  2. P.S>

    The Fortunatos of this world could find worse places to be walled up.

    wu hahaa

  3. I haven't looked at the BHS additions. I noticed that several SF architects gave money for Measure H and I, so I suppose they want to continue whatever they've been doing. I do think the TJ Building is a stinker. Adams' critique focuses on the units, which he says are pretty dreadful. It's hard for me to separate the store from what sits above it.