Steel Shots: Above the Action

Cal Berkeley's Memorial Stadium

Floating over Cal Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium, a sleek, new press box complements the structure’s historic Beaux Arts facade. The modern two-story structure is 375 ft long and uses 1,350 tons of structural steel. Photo: Courtesy of HNTB

It’s typical to see a blimp hovering over a football stadium on game day. A hovering press box? Not so much.

But the new press box at the University of California Berkeley’s (Cal) Memorial Stadium, home of the Golden Bears football team, appears to do just that.

The modern, two-story structure is 437 ft long, including a 387-ft-long main box truss and two end-span cantilevers of 25 ft each. On game days, it is filled with up to 1,700 sports reporters, coaches, university officials, alumni and donors, providing outstanding views of not only the playing field and stadium but also the San Francisco Bay Area.

Built in 1923 as a memorial to California’s fallen heroes of World War I, Memorial Stadium sits on a fault line that is creeping a little more than a millimeter per year. Besides slow movement along the fault, seismic activity of a more catastrophic scale was also a problem. By 1998, the university had assigned a “poor” rating to the stadium in a self-performed, campus-wide seismic safety study. With a 62% chance of a 6.7-magnitude or higher earthquake occurring sometime in the next three decades, university officials knew something had to be done.

Cal hired HNTB Corporation in associate with Studios Architecture of San Francisco to create and implement a master plan for renovating the historic stadium and surrounding area.

You can read more about the new steel press box and renovated Memorial Stadium in the January 2014 issue of MSC (available now!). And check out our new logo! Thank you to everyone who voted at We love our new look!