The Telegraph that is is not the Telegraph that should be.

Though it stretches over four miles in length, the “Telegraph Ave” that comes to mind is a mere four blocks. In this short stretch, multiple generations of students and residents created, experienced, and continually transformed a student downtown. The Telegraph of the 1800s was a bustling brick-and-mortar downtown flanked with trolleys, the Telegraph of the 1960s was a counterculture destination, but the Telegraph of 2021 is a shell of its former self. The local markets have been replaced by Walgreens, Chipotle, and corporate banks. Idling delivery trucks, illegally parked cars, and an (unnecessarily) car-only street leave only a narrow sidewalk for the thousands of daily pedestrians. Sparse trees, fluorescent lights, peace sign bike racks, and blue recycling bins decorate the rest of the street. For the students of the present day, Telegraph is merely a space to be quickly traversed — whether for a 10am lecture or a drunken stumble to Top Dog. Telegraph Ave lacks the complexities, liveliness, and imageability of a healthy urban street.

This competition seeks to promote and construct the next iteration of Telegraph. It asks, what will Telegraph look like in the future? The “future” is unfixed and uncertain — it is for the designer to (re)imagine Telegraph’s future to whatever they see fit. This competition does not seek to provide a design that will be literally implemented — it doesn’t necessarily seek plans which might be considered “realistic” in the eyes of a city planner — rather, it seeks plans that capture the radical and visionary spirit found throughout Telegraph’s history. Designers should embody this spirit in their designs alongside goals of sustainability, inclusivity, and imageability. The City of Berkeley has already begun its multi-year process for redeveloping Southside streets, Telegraph being one of them. The designs and outcome of this competition seek to crowdsource ideas, provide public support, and push the envelope for what Telegraph can become.

In 1969, students took Telegraph amidst the National Guard to fight against the development of People’s Park. In 2021, they took it again — but they never gave it back.


The following list of design fundamentals lays out some expectations, but the designer is not limited to these. It is also true that many of these goals are interwoven and dependent on each other. Regardless, pay attention to the questions these propose.


A submission should incorporate design features which directly respond to climate change and “resilient cities.” Closing the street off to cars is certainly the most direct response, but the designer might also incorporate street trees, native landscaping, and other opportunities to increase biodiversity — all of which fall under biophilia. A designer might think about the embodied carbon of their construction choices. Where should building materials come from? Oh, and what about renewable energy?


Directly related to sustainability, the motivating goal of this design is to close Telegraph off to cars. Designs should include multiple forms of transportation, particularly bikes and pedestrians, but also public transportation.

Telegraph needs to be a “complete street” — make it so.


Think about what makes a place unique: its architecture, its landscape, the liveliness of the street, landmarks, etc. Designers should seek interventions to create and embolden a sense of place, of imageability, and history. Highlight the architectural character and history, think about the types of pavement, of street lights (overhead or on posts?), presence of public art, landscaping, and anything that instills “place.” What architecture/landscaping/design is unique to Berkeley? Finally, a good “place” is instilled with a public spirit. Provide ample opportunity for social interaction (street furniture?), public events, and seek to create “third places.”


If we are to seek justice for all communities, we must make our public space equitable and accessible. All designs must be inclusive of those from all backgrounds, socioeconomic status, gender/sexual identity, etc, etc. We do not want anti-homeless architecture, nor do we want outdoor dining space exclusively for sit-down restaurants. “Inclusive” goes beyond merely providing an open space, it involves actively accommodating for every part of the public. Maybe consider creating space for the informal sector (ie street vendors, food carts), or maybe find ways to encourage protest (how can you help make community voices heard?). Understand the public you’re dealing with and provide for all of them.



The design should cover the four-block stretch of Telegraph from Bancroft Way to Dwight Way. If you wish to include surrounding streets in your design, you may, but as a complement to show how changes to transportation behavior may be accomodated. Telegraph is the focus of this competition and it should be the focus of your design.


Submissions will be judged based on the imagination of their proposal and incorporation of the aforementioned values. Designs will also be judged according to how effectively they accommodate all users of the street, ranging from businesses, emergency services, pedestrians, and bus riders.

Here are some suggestions of constituencies to keep in mind:

  • Pedestrians

  • AC Transit

  • Cyclists and battery powered scooters or skateboarders

  • Disabled pedestrians and other differently abled street users

  • Unhoused community members

  • Emergency and public safety officials

  • Gig workers

  • Small businesses

Eligible Participants

Designers must be current UC Berkeley students (undergrad/grad/phd, doesn’t matter) or recent graduates. You don’t have to be in the College of Environmental Design, this competition is open to everyone.


There is no need to formally “register” for the competition, just submit your material according to the instructions below. Please sign up for our email list and follow our Twitter (@telegraphforppl) and Instagram (@telegraphforpeople) for competition updates and reminders.

Submission Requirements

A design submission should consist of the following:

  1. Designer’s statement (short paragraph is fine)

  2. At least one (1) drawing/rendering/picture/sketch (crude sketches are fine as long as they communicate your vision)

That’s it! This competition is about generating ideas. You can submit more if desired — vision boards, many renderings, section plans, landscape plans, etc. There is no limit to what we will accept.

Please send all materials to by the submission deadline, January 10th, 2021.

*Note: by submitting material to this competition, you allow us to publicly post and use your materials in campaigning, with proper attribution.


The panelist of judges is TBD, but you can expect it to include the student organizers of Telegraph for People, a community organization, and perhaps some housing/transportation activists. The final panel will be announced before the submission deadline (which is why it’s important you stay updated by following us).

The judging process will happen in the week following the submission deadline (and see below for winner announcement details).


The winner (and runner-ups) of the competition will be announced on or before January 17th, 2021.

The winner will receive a $150 gift card to Rice & Bones in Wurster Hall…as well as the honor of winning the design competition and fulfilling the prompt.