Donald Hardison found his purpose early in life and lived it through to the end.

His purpose was bettering his community both as an architect and as an active member.

Hardison, an influential architect whose firm designed many of the defining buildings in Richmond and the East Bay after World War II, died Sept. 17 at his home in El Cerrito. He was 96.

His signature works included numerous school buildings, including the new Richmond High School, and the student union and Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley.

One of the projects he most treasured, and received national acclaim for, is no longer standing. Easter Hill Village was a federal housing complex designed and built as Richmond's hastily built wartime housing was being demolished.

The project, opened in 1950 at a former quarry site where Easter services were once held, was designed to bring together elements previously unheard of in such projects, including exposed beam ceilings, gardens and play areas. The project, designed to house a mix of tenants of various incomes, incorporated boulders left from the quarry as design elements.

The innovations won honors from the American Institute of Architects in Washington, D.C.

Hardison was honored by Richmond with a Historic Preservation Award in 2009, and his involvement with the community was readily apparent at the ceremony, where your columnist sat next to him and he offered insights on aspects of the city's history and built environment.


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"His interest in so many community groups, his love of architecture and his love of nature -- he combined all of those into his profession," said Hardison's daughter Jan Brown.

Hardison was a native of Fillmore who came to the Bay Area to study architecture at UC Berkeley, where he graduated in 1938.

He remained in the area and during World War II worked as a naval architect at Mare Island and the Kaiser shipyards in Richmond.

He opened his own firm after the war, which is still in business today as HKIT Architects in Oakland.

In a 40-year career, he served on state and local commissions, became a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, was president of the local and state AIA chapters, and became AIA Chancellor of the College of Fellows.

In the community, he was active with the Richmond Art Center, the Richmond Museum of History, the SS Red Oak Victory and the Richmond Chamber of Commerce.

A celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m. Oct. 12 at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley.

WEST COUNTY NOTES: Here are the top finishers in the annual parade that opened this year's Solano Stroll on Sept. 9, as judged by Lisa Bullwinkel of Another Bullwinkel Show and professional wrestling announcer Alan Bolte:

1. El Cerrito Preschool Cooperative; 2. (tie) Albany Preschool and Crestmont School; 3. (tie) Hot Pink Feathers, Dance Azteca and El Cerrito High School Gauchos.

Honorable mentions included the Albany-Berkeley Soccer Club, Berkeley Ballet Theater, Berkeley Pools for All, Berkeley YMCA Dancers, Brasarte, Brushstrokes Studio, Head Over Heels Athletic Arts and Saint Mary's High School cheerleaders.

  • The final free concert in this year's Point Richmond Music series starts at 5:30 p.m. Friday with acoustic trio Calaveras. Closing the bill of the show at Park Place will be six-member funk, soul and blues group Con Brio.

  • Richmond is participating in the national Prescription Drug Take-Back Day with a free no-questions collection from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Hilltop Mall Sub-Station, 2200 Hilltop Mall Road.

    There is also a permanent dropoff box (no liquid medications, please) accessible from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at the Richmond Police Department, 1701 Regatta Blvd.

  • The second Guatemala Independence Day Festival will have music and other live performances starting at 11:30 a.m. Sunday at the Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbour Way South in Richmond. Tickets and details: 415-933-2767.

  • Heads up to Hercules and San Pablo residents: Your local sales tax increases by a half-cent on Monday.

  • Ashkon Davaran, the Kensington native and El Cerrito High graduate who became an online sensation in 2010 with his "Don't Stop Believin' " video anthem for the pennant and World Series-bound San Francisco Giants, is back in the spotlight.

    Davaran has the title role in "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson," a new musical set to open Oct. 9 at the S.F. Playhouse (www.sfplayhouse.org).

  • The Junket Delicatessen at El Cerrito Plaza celebrates Oktoberfest with a performance by the Enzian Folkdancers and Karl Lebherz on accordion from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

  • Dorothy Stewart lets us know that the Pages Book Club of Richmond -- which also includes Linda Daigre, Saundra Alexander, Carolyn Dickens and Mary Spearman -- continues to do more than discuss literature.

    The group assembled and shipped five boxes of new underwear, socks and sleepwear to Our Lady of Grace Catholic School in Reserve, La., to "assist families in that parish school that lost everything in Hurricane Isaac."

    Stewart writes that "we are hoping that this will be the beginning of a new relationship between our little group and the parish school."

    Contact Chris Treadway at 510-262-2784 or ctreadway@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/christreadway. Stay up-to-date on West Contra Costa news at IBABuzz.com/westcounty.