Set in the foothills above Berkley with views west toward San Francisco Bay, the Greek Theatre is an 8,500-seat amphitheatre owned and operated by the University of California at Berkley. It was built in 1903 in a wooded natural bowl that had itself been used for outdoor performances for many years. Newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst donated the funds to finance the project at the urging of his mother who was an early benefactress of the university. The design is based directly on the ancient Greek theatre of Epidaurus. Concrete risers and an expansive column-backed stage lie entirely under the open sky. In spite of its large size, it is renowned for its intimacy and fine acoustics. It was the first Greek theatre built in the United States and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
The theatre books a wide variety of acts from stage performances to rock concerts. The louder events were a source of complaints from the neighbors and led to a noise citation by the City of Berkeley. In 1983 the university engaged MLA to do a formal set of measurements at various sensitive locations and to develop recommendations on how to control the noise. We reviewed the city ordinance and found that it was poorly drafted. We made recommendations to the city as well as the university on how to comply with a properly drafted ordinance.