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Department of Public Works
Department of Public Works


Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Building - Groundbreaking 16 March 1999


Legacy - Preserving Our Past
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Building is a designated city landmark. Designed by noted Berkeley architect, James Plachek, the six-story art modern building was originally constructed for the Farm Credit Administration between 1938 and 1940. The City of Berkeley acquired the building in 1977 for its municipal offices.

Seismic Renovation - Securing Our Future 
Seismic renovation of the Civic Center Building includes a state-of-the-art base isolation system. The completed building will rest on eighty-eight (88) lead rubber-bearing isolators and steel sliders, which will be installed in the basement of the six-story structure. This system introduces a moat around the entire building perimeter to allow the base isolated building to move up to 30 inches in any direction. In the event of a major earthquake, base isolation will greatly reduce structural and architectural damage and will minimize "downtime" for City services.

Typical Open Office

ELS/Elbasani and Logan Architects

Forell/Elsesser Engineers

Swinerton Management and Consulting

Ove Arup and Partners

The Engineering Enterprise

City of Berkeley, Facilities Management

Local Measure S
Federal Emergency Management Agency


New Work Environments
Renovated office floors will incorporate up-to-date heating, plumbing, electrical and data/communications systems. Custom pendant light fixtures will recall the historic fixtures that served the mortgage and insurance operations of the Farm Credit Administration.

Energy Efficient Design - Natural Ventilation
The U-shaped building takes maximum advantage of daylight, and the historic steel casement windows will be refurbished and remain operable. During the day, new natural ventilation shafts will help to remove warm air and draw cooler air in from outside. Exposed concrete ceiling joists will provide thermal mass to reduce peak heating loads and smooth out temperature swings during office hours.

North-South Section/Elevation



Preservation Design
California Preservation Foundation

Savings by Design
California Utilities & American Institute of Architects

Distinguished Project of the Year
American Public Works Association

Award of Excellence
Berkeley Design Advocates

Special Commendation
Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association


Mayor Shirley Dean
Councilmember Polly Armstrong
Councilmember Margaret Breland
Councilmember Linda Maio
Councilmember Betty Olds
Councilmember Maudelle Shirek
Councilmember Dona Spring
Councilmember Diane Woolley
Councilmember Kriss Worthington
City Manager James Keene
Senator Diane Feinstein
Senator Barbara Boxer
State Senator Barbara Lee
Assemblywoman Dion Aroner
James Lee Witt, Director of FEMA
Jane Bullock, FEMA Chief of Staff
Martha Whetstone, Director of FEMA Region 9

Thank you, Berkeley, for supporting
seismic safety in our community!

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Department of Public Works, 2180 Milvia Street, Berkeley, CA 94704
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(510) 981-CITY/2489 or 311 from any landline in Berkeley
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