Media Advisory: UC Botanical Garden prepares the way for Julia Morgan building

WHAT: The complex move of the historic Girton Hall, designed by famed architect and University of California, Berkeley, alumna Julia Morgan, will conclude Sunday morning (Jan. 12) with the transportation of two sections of the structure starting on the central UC Berkeley campus near Memorial Stadium, and ending at a new home at the UC Botanical Garden in Strawberry Canyon.

The two-story Girton Hall features built-in benches lining its perimeter, an open and vaulted ceiling with wood trusses, a monumental brick fireplace, native materials such as unpainted redwood, and simple detailing characteristic of Morgan. It was built in 1911, and when it was first used in 1912, it was nicknamed the Senior Women’s Hall because due to its designation for use by  female students. From 1970 to 2013, it was a child-care center. Now, campus construction plans make its garden move possible.

The building will be stitched back together and will reopen, just east of the garden’s main gate, in late summer or early fall for conferences, exhibits, alumni events, weddings and the like.

For an idea of how Sunday’s move may unfold, check the garden website for video and photos taken last weekend, when the first, and much smaller, portion of the rustic lodge-looking structure was maneuvered up the winding Centennial Drive. More move details are online and will be tweeted over the weekend at Also online is a report that includes historic photos of Girton Hall.

WHEN: 6-8:30 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 12 for the first piece. The second piece move will begin about noon. The garden opens to the public at 9 a.m.
Photographers should get to the garden early to position themselves for the building’s arrival and to record the structure’s progress up the canyon.

WHERE: UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive, Berkeley.  Click here for a map.  The building is being assembled just south of the garden’s main gate.

Note that the garden will be accessible via Grizzly Peak Road in the hills above campus during the move.  Centennial Road between the garden and near the stadium will be closed to regular traffic. The building is being moved from the southeast corner of the intersection of Gayley Road and Stadium Rimway.

DETAILS: Girton Hall is listed on the National and California Registers, and also is a Berkeley city landmark. Morgan’s American Craftsman-style work can be seen across campus. She was the primary designer of the Greek Theater and provided the decorative touches on the elegant Hearst Mining Building. In the Bay Area, Morgan also designed St. John’s Presbyterian Church (now the Berkeley Playhouse), the landmark Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, which she was asked to redesign after the 1906 earthquake, and several Mills College buildings in Oakland. Her most famous design is Hearst Castle in San Simeon.

Morgan was the only woman in her civil engineering class at UC Berkeley and the first woman admitted to the architecture program at Beaux-arts de Paris, l’école nationale supérieure. She also was the first woman architect licensed in California. In December, Morgan became the first woman to receive the American Architecture Association’s Gold Medal, when the honor was awarded to her posthumously.

The UC Botanical Garden is a non-profit research garden and museum that features 13,000 different kinds of plants from around the world.  It is open year-round.