Chu Hall - University of California Berkeley

Key Features


Geotechnical Challenges



  • Located on eastern side of Old Town, previously the Solar Energy Research Center (SERC) 

  • 40,000 gross square foot building housing research laboratories and offices devoted to nanoscale photovoltaic and electro-chemical solar engery systems

  • Goal of achieving a LEED Gold rating

  • Designed to mimic the natural form of the hillside based on hillside topography

  • Design includes a new single-story basement level and subsurface drainage beneath and surrounding the perimeter of the building

  • Various tests needed to determine best foundations for constructing basement and drainage

  • Design requires hillside to be seismically stable 

  • Public responses needed for draft environmental impact report (DEIR) 

Innovative Solutions


  • Performed special inspections and testing related to soils, foundations, retaining walls, shoring, drainage and earthwork

  • Developed shoring on three sides of building, excavation, spread footing foundations, prepared slab and pavement subgrades, and backfilled new basement walls 

  • Provided feasibility-level studios to address potential geologic hazards