Rousing Celebration Marks Renovation of BART Plaza

The BART Plaza in downtown Berkeley reopened Thursday with a rousing celebration that included speeches by elected officials and music by the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra and other musicians.

The $13 million, 15-month renovation replaced the square's brick rotunda with a sleek glass awning.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin told about 100 people who attended the celebration that, "Downtown is the heart of our city and this plaza is like our town square."

Arreguin said the plaza is now "a major regional transit hub" because it includes stops for Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District buses at the street level in addition to the BART stop below ground.

He said the plaza is "pedestrian-friendly and is a more welcoming environment" than the previous plaza.

BART Director Rebecca Saltzman, whose district includes part of Berkeley, said the renovation was important because the former space "needed a little bit of love."

Berkeley City Councilwoman Kate Harrison said the plaza is "a huge step forward" for the city.

After Arreguin and other dignitaries cut the ribbon across the steel and glass canopy that forms the main entrance to BART at Shattuck Avenue and Center Street, the Berkeley Symphony emerged up the steps from the station and performed Joan Tower's "Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman."

In addition, Michael Christian's 14-foot "Home" globe sculpture was unveiled in the plaza.

Later, Chris Brown's "Flow in Place" sound art installation, a combination of field recordings of nature, street sounds collected around the world, and music, was switched on.

Additional performances at the soundstage at the plaza are scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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