Hearst Field Annex B-22
Berkeley CA 94720-2495
Phone: (510) 664-4182
Email: berkeleyconnect@berkeley.edu

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The Berkeley Connect program opens up the extraordinary resources of the university to you: the extraordinary students on our campus. By joining, you will become part of a community of like-minded faculty, mentors, and students that will provide a supportive environment in which to exchange and discuss ideas and goals. Berkeley Connect will help you to make the most of your time at the university as you learn more about the major in Architecture. We’re excited to get to know you!

Message from the Director

Greig CryslerWould you like a chance to discuss some of the excitement and challenges of being an architecture student in a relaxed and stress-free setting? Do you seek a forum to share ideas, troubleshoot as a way to enhance your experiences as an architecture student at Berkeley?As the inaugural Director of the Department of Architecture’s Berkeley Connect program, I’d like to encourage you to join an exciting new opportunity for support, interchange and creative growth. Our Berkeley Connect Program is designed to provide with you empowering skills and new insights about architecture as a discipline and profession. The Berkeley Connect program will help you get the most out of our Department by bringing you together in conversation with faculty and students in a sequence of weekly activities designed to be fun, informative and supportive. You will make new friends, develop a support system to help you achieve your goals, and lean new things about architecture in an informal and interactive setting.

I look forward to sharing the excitement and potential of the Berkeley Connect program with you.

Professor Greig Crysler

Faculty Director, Berkeley Connect in Architecture

Program Description

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Architecture. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Architecture major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.The only requirement for joining Berkeley Connect in Architecture is that you have an interest in the field of study. You do not have to be a major in order to participate! Undeclared freshmen and sophomores are welcome, along with entering junior transfers and juniors and seniors who have declared the major.

Every semester, Berkeley Connect sponsors a wide range of activities and events for participating students.  They include:

  • small-group meetings led by your mentor;
  • one-on-one meetings with your mentor;
  • special events, including informal lectures by professors and guest speakers, and panels on career options, graduate school admissions, and other topics;
  • and visits to Berkeley resources.

At the heart of Berkeley Connect is the relationship between you and your mentor. The Berkeley Connect mentors are advanced graduate students or recent PhDs in Architecture, who are chosen both for their demonstrated commitment to undergraduates and for their scholarly achievement. They are dedicated to providing the kind of close-knit community and one-on-one attention that can be hard to find at a large university.

When you sign up for Berkeley Connect, you will join one of several small groups of participants in Architecture. Your small group will be led by your mentor, and will meet every other week during the semester for an hour-long dinner discussion sessions. Discussions will focus on key intellectual issues within Architecture as well as key skills you need to succeed in the major. Above all, the small groups will focus on building connections among students, so that each group becomes a supportive community for all participants.

You will also meet with your mentor one-on-one at least twice during the semester, once to get acquainted, and a second time just before Tele-Bears, to discuss your plans for completing your major. Your mentor also has office hours every other week, during which you are free to show up and ask questions, talk over your day or your week, discuss what you are learning in class, or just have an informal conversation.


Greig Crysler (Director)
Greig CryslerC. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, where he holds the Arcus Chair of Gender, Sexuality and the Built Environment. He obtained his professional degree in architecture from the Architectural Association in London, and has extensive experience in architectural practice in Canada and the UK. He completed his Ph.D. in the Graduate Program in Architectural History and Theory at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He teaches introductory courses in architectural theory and criticism and graduate seminars that explore the relationship between architecture and social processes such as nationalism, globalization and the politics of identity. In 2010 he launched a new class at the intersection of architecture, ethics and activism, and collaborated with Professor Margaret Crawford to establish a recurring colloquium on activism in the built environment professions.

Berkeley Connect Mentors

Amina AlKandariAmina Alkandari is a Ph.D. Candidate in Architecture with a designated emphasis in Global Metropolitan Studies, specialized in history of architecture and contemporary urbanization in developing countries with a focus on the Middle East, specifically the Arab Gulf region. She received her B.ARCH from University of Miami, and M.ARCH in Architecture and Urban Design Studies from Syracuse University, where she spent a year in Florence, Italy. She obtained an M.S in Architecture from UC Berkeley with a thesis titled “The Influence of Gender on the use of Mall Space in Kuwait.” Her Ph.D. dissertation focuses on nation-building and modernity in Kuwait from the early 1900s to the present. She is also interested in issues related to gender, architecture, and space. Amina is excited to be part of Berkeley Connect program as she loves teaching, enjoys sharing knowledge, and facilitating a dialogue between students to exchange ideas.

ARCH Valentina Rozas-KrauseValentina Rozas-Krause is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Architecture. She is an architect with a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, and founder of the urban research and design collective Memopolis. Her project to transform Chile’s National Stadium into a public park, designed with Teodoro Fernandez Architects, was awarded first place in the 2011 “Parque de la Ciudadanía” competition. In 2014, Ril Editores published her book on the architectural, urban and political history of the stadium, “Ni Tan Elefante, Ni Tan Blanco: Arquitectura, Urbanismo y Política en la Trayectoria del Estadio Nacional.” Her dissertation research focuses on the representation of memories of twentieth century traumas in public urban space in Chile, Germany and the US. Valentina grew up in Berlin and Santiago. Valentina’s interest in serving as a Berkeley Connect mentor is tied to her teaching experience in Chile, and her own experience as an international student. She looks forward to working with students in the Berkeley Connect program to expand their academic and professional relationships and to integrate creative thinking and social responsibility into their everyday lives.


Course format and requirements: Berkeley Connect is an innovative academic enrichment and mentorship program that builds on the energy, experiences and excitement of its student participants. Our program is designed to provide you with empowering skills and new insights about architecture as a discipline and profession. The Berkeley Connect program will help you get the most out of our Department by bringing you together in conversation with faculty and students in a sequence of weekly activities designed to be fun, informative and supportive. You will make new friends, develop a support system to help you achieve your goals, and learn new things about architecture in an informal and interactive setting.

Our program has two facets: weekly small group meetings, and periodic gatherings where all the sections come together for events such as a field trip, a film screening and a faculty panel discussion. You have already enrolled in a small group section, and your weekly meetings will take place at either 6-7pm, or 7-8pm, depending on your group. Please consult bcourses and make sure you know where and when your group is meeting. The schedule of meetings and the discussion topics are listed below. Please note that all large group events (with the exception of the field trip) will begin at 6pm. Please also note that you are required to attend two one-on-one meetings with your Mentor, either during the class times scheduled for this on February 9, and April 6, or at a time arranged with your Mentor. We strongly encourage you to visit both your mentor and the program’s faculty during the semester.

We will be confirming the start time of the field trip soon. We will also be holding a panel discussion with the Chair of Architecture, Tom Buresh, and the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Renee Chow, on March 16 in the Wurster Hall Ground Floor Lobby at 6pm.

NOTE: To receive credit for Berkeley Connect, you must attend all small group section meetings and special events (with the exception of those scheduled on Fridays, which are optional), and complete the final course evaluation for the class. You must notify your mentor of any conflicts with large group meetings before they take place to avoid having an unexcused absence added to your class record.


[*Bring your appetite, dinner or snacks will be served on these dates]

Thursday Jan 19

“Welcome to Berkeley Connect!” [Large group meeting 6-7pm, Room 112]

Our first session of Berkeley Connect will bring all enrolled students together in room 112 Wurster Hall. We’ll introduce you to the Faculty and Mentors affiliated with Berkeley Connect this Spring: Director Greig Crysler, Assistant Director Mohammad Keshavarzi, and Amina Al-Kandari and Valentina Rozas-Krause. We’ll discuss what the students liked about the Fall 2016 program, and what we’re adding to make the Spring 2017 program even better and more exciting. You’ll also learn about course policies, special events and visitors, and how to use our Bcourses site. Please plan to be in room 112 for a 6pm start!

Thursday Jan 26* [Small group meetings; rooms 172 and 104]

“Getting to know each other: Student and Mentor introductions.”

This is when the members of each section get introduced to each other. You’ll have a chance to meet and greet your fellow Berkeley Connectors, and you will also get know your Mentor (Amina or Valentina). We’d like you to tell us a bit about yourself and your hopes for the semester in Berkeley Connect. Perhaps a game or two!

Thursday Feb 2* [Small group meetings; rooms 172 and 104 Wurster Hall]

“What is (not) architecture?”

In our first discussion, we’d like you to bring an image to your section that illustrates your thoughts about what is or is not architecture. While the distinction sounds like it might be basic and easily defined, we’ve found that the response changes as students get further into the major. This conversation can tell us a lot about how we see the field of architecture and our roles in it. How has the definition changed for you since you started at Berkeley? Or since you were younger? Do you think it will change or develop as you move through your education and beyond?

Thursday Feb 9 [One-on-one meetings]

“Making connections/Meeting your mentor.” (Required one-on-one meetings) Your mentors will be meeting you in an individual appointment, either during our scheduled meeting times on Thursday, or at another time during your mentor’s office hours. You’ll sign up for an appointment time online.

Thursday Feb 16* [Small group meetings in room 172 and 104 Wurster Hall]

“Speaking up/Speaking out in class”

This week we’ll be talking about the dynamics of speaking in the classroom, the lecture hall and the design jury. We’ll make use of some interactive role-playing to help foreground the challenges involved in making yourself heard as an integral part of the learning process; we’ll also discuss some useful techniques to strengthen your confidence and enhance your participation in class.

Thursday February 23* [Small group discussion; rooms 172 and 104 Wurster Hall]

“What’s next: important resources and things to know for the summer, and after graduation.” This is your chance to explore options for what you’ll do when you’re not in school, either in the summer or as the next stage in your life after you graduate. We’ll talk about getting your first internship or job, resources that may be useful to find the right position, and alternate paths for those who may want to explore options outside architecture. We will be joined at this session by representatives from UC Berkeley’s Career Center.

Thursday March 2* [Small group meetings in room 172 and 104 Wurster Hall]

“Making the most of criticism”

This discussion will address how to handle criticism you receive from professors, GSIs and your peers. For students who are in the Upper Division, we’ll focus on how best to experience the design jury as a learning opportunity, in which you as a student are an active participant. For those of you in the Lower Division, we’ll cast our net more broadly and talk about how to deal with feedback on assignments of all kinds, from research papers to exams. You are strongly encouraged to attend presentations and reviews at the CED Circus next week (see below), an event which all CED students are required to attend. This is a great opportunity for you to see your colleagues in action, and to witness some of the many ways criticism is given to students, and how they make the most of it.

[sign up for BAMPFA tour this week]

Friday March 3 [Optional event; first and second floors, Wurster Hall]

“Berkeley Connect students tour the CED Circus.”

This week we’re suggesting that you join Valentina, Amina, and Greig as we tour the Berkeley Circus exhibitions and live events. Bring your camera (cell phone camera is fine) and take a picture of something extraordinary you’d like to talk about next week. This is an optional event, but all CED students are asked to attend the Circus, so we thought it would be a good time for us to meet and experience part of the Circus together. Like Berkeley Connect, the Circus is about bringing people together in the CED, including many alumni that have gone on to very interesting design careers. We will also be asking you to attend at least one of the reviews, and to bring your observations about the process back with you to discuss next week.

Thursday March 9* [Small group meetings; rooms 172 and 104]

“Discussion of CED Circus presentations and reviews.”

This week we will be reflecting on the exhibits and events students attended at the Berkeley Circus. We’ll hear your observations about the reviews of student work, and consider how the reviews of student work you witnessed at the Circus relate to our discussion from two weeks ago, about how to make the most out ot ouf criticism. Please be sure to bring at least one photo and/or an observation about a review to your section for discussion.

Thursday March 16 [Large group meeting, ground floor review area, Wurster Hall]

“Tom Buresh and Renee Chow in Conversation”

This week the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, Renee Chow, and the Chair of the Department of Architecture, Tom Buresh, will participate in an open discussion with you about issues in the architecture major. We will ask you to propose a question for discussion, and send it to your mentor, via the bcourses site. We’ll gather the questions together, and use the first few to get the conversation started, and go from there. We are hoping to focus this discussion on questions around student health and well being, and the academic climate in the Department of Architecture.

Friday March 17 [Optional event; advanced sign-up on bcourses required]

“Field trip: Berkeley Art Museum.”

We will visit the newly opened Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in downtown Berkeley. We’ll meet in the main lobby of Wurster Hall, stopping at several points along the way, including the modernist icon that the new building replaces. The tour includes access to “behind the scenes” areas of the BAMPFA. Students will be required to sign up for this tour in advance.

Thursday March 23* [Small group discussion; rooms 172 and 104 Wurster Hall]

“How to have a life during crunch time.”

This week we’re talking about how to maintain a fun and balanced life during those high pressure points that occur every semester, particularly (but not only) in studio classes. We’ll talk about why being a good student and having fun outside school are not mutually exclusive. We all know taking breaks and nourishing the other parts of our lives is essential, but sometimes deadlines get in the way. How can we avoid what sometimes seem like inevitable sacrifices? Bring your best practices for a well-rounded life to class to discuss with your colleagues.

Thursday March 30

Spring Break

Thursday April 6 [by appointment and in rooms 172 and 104 Wurster Hall]

“One-on-one meetings.” This week, your mentors will be meeting you for the second of two required one-on-one meetings. You’ll sign up for your appointment in advance, and it will take place either during the regular time for your section meeting, or in a scheduled meeting in your mentor’s office.

Thursday April 13 [Large group meeting; Location TBA at 6pm]

“A day in the life of a female architect.”

This popular annual event is organized in conjunction with the CED advising office. A panel of architects and CED alumni will gather with us in the lecture hall to talk about the challenges and rewards of being an architect today. The event is open to all Architecture undergrads, so be on time to get a seat!

Thursday April 20* [Small group meetings, room 172 and 104]

“For the summer: A Berkeley Connect list of best books and films on architecture and cities”

In this discussion, we’d like everyone to come to section ready to talk about a book they’d like to read or film they plan to watch about architecture and/or cities over the summer. There are no limitations on your choices — suggestions can include fiction and non-fiction, documentaries, or films in which particular buildings or cities play an important role in the plot (think, for example, of the movie Blade Runner: a science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott in 1984, set in a dystopian Los Angeles of the future). Each section will come up with a watch/read list that we will post on bcourses for your reference over the summer.

Thursday April 27

“Reflections and looking ahead”* [Ground floor lobby, Wurster Hall at 6pm]

This is a chance for us to gather together one last time, to check in with friends, and reflect on all that has happened in Berkeley Connect over the semester. We’ll meet in conversation clusters for snacks in the ground floor lobby. Greig, Amina, Valentina and Mohammad Keshavarzi will be in attendance to listen to your questions and suggestions.


To find sections in the upcoming semester, search the Schedule of Classes for Architecture 98BC (for first-year and sophomores) or 198BC (for juniors and seniors).

To help you meet other students who share your experiences and perspectives, Berkeley Connect sections are designated as lower division (first-year students and sophomores), new junior transfers, and upper division (juniors and seniors), but you can enroll in any section that fits your schedule and credit requirements.

How to Sign Up

To participate in Berkeley Connect in Architecture, you enroll in a designated section of Architecture 98BC or 198BC (one unit, taken on a Pass/Not Pass basis). Many students chose to enroll for more than one semester. Participation is NOT restricted to declared majors.To sign up, enroll in a Berkeley Connect section when course registration opens.  Please see the Berkeley Connect sections listed above under “Schedule.”

**Read the schedule notes carefully—different sections are designated as primarily for lower-division (freshmen and sophomores), upper-division (juniors and seniors), or junior transfer students.

If you are interested in participating in Berkeley Connect, but course registration is not currently open, you can join the Berkeley Connect Mailing List, and you will be sent more details when the next semester’s information becomes available.

Contact Us

Please see our FAQs. If you have additional questions about Berkeley Connect in Architecture, please contact:  Greig Crysler, Faculty Director, cgreigc@gmail.com.

Valentina Rozas Krause: vrozas@berkeley.edu
[Office Hours: Thurs 4;30-5:30 pm, Room 372 Wurster, or by appointment]

Amina Al-Kandari: aalkandari@berkeley.edu
[Office Hours: Thurs 4:30-5:30 pm, Room 372 Wurster, or by appointment]

Susan Hagstrom, Director of Undergraduate Advising, Architecture, hagstrom@berkeley.edu

You can also contact the central Berkeley Connect office at berkeleyconnect@berkeley.edu or (510)664-4182.

Links & Resources