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Hall was named for the California explorer and philosopher Josiah
Royce, and, like Royce, the building’s architects aspired to greatness.
The hall was designed to be the dominant structure of the new campus
and a symbol of its aspirations. It was the first block on a bare
site, and early photos show it and Powell Library rising in lonely
splendor from a former sheep pasture. Architect David Allison emulated
the towers and rounded arches of the12th-century church of Sant’Ambrogio
in Milan to create an impressive facade, then added cloisters and
rounded lecture halls to soften the massive wings. Allison’s Royce
created a sense of place. The way it is sited -- on high ground,
facing south to catch the sun, on axis with a slightly lower Powell
-- is a master stroke. Even a first-time visitor would sense immediately
that this was the hub of the campus, conjuring as it does a chapel
in a medieval school.
is also a grand deception, as brilliant and shameless as anything
Hollywood could have dreamed up. Patterned brick and terra-cotta
conceal a reinforced concrete structural frame, lending an air of
distinction to a functional package of classrooms, offices and auditorium.
Within, concrete beams are merely whitewashed, except in the lobby,
where they are painted to resemble ornamented wood. Step into the
auditorium and you are jolted into another era: The Renaissance-style
coffered ceiling was modeled on that of the Santa Maria Maggiore
basilica in Rome, itself created 300 years after the church that
inspired the exterior. And to give dignity to a new campus seeking
to establish its independence from Berkeley, master planner George
Kelham selected an appropriate architectural style -- Lombard Romanesque.
It was a friendlier aesthetic than gray stone Gothic, and the use
of red brick was intended to capture the warmth of the Southern
+ Allen, executive architects for the Royce renovation, and design
architect Barton Phelps were challenged to strengthen, restore and
improve this historic structure without compromising its architecturally
significant elements. This was no small task, as they had to reconcile
the demands of engineers and a top acoustician. They had to work
within state guidelines for the restoration of protected buildings.
And they had to satisfy the Federal Emergency Management Agency
in order to recoup most of the $68.3-million expense.