Federal Land Bank


2180 Milvia Street map it


designated in 1985


James W. Plachek, Architect, 1938
ELS Architects, 1999

The Farm Credit Administration built this structure to house federal agricultural banking and financial agencies, including one of the 12 Federal Land Banks that assisted Depression-era farmers. Features of the Moderne-style building include a gateway and an entrance court at the west elevation and distinctive zigzag stair towers. Inside and out, the structure reflects the era’s focus on creating public buildings that were useful, attractive, and affordable. The modest lobby is notable for its Art Deco detailing.

The building’s major entrance faced west in anticipation of the creation of a civic center park. In 1940 Berkeley voters passed a bond issue for development of the present park. In 1976 the building was purchased by the City of Berkeley to house municipal offices. Renamed the Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Building in 1983, it was seismically retrofitted in 1999. In keeping with architect Plachek’s original plans, a partial sixth floor was added.

Berkeley Historical Plaque Project

  • Federal Land Bank (2010), photo R. Kehlmann.

  • Federal Land Bank, 1999 invitation to renovation groundbreaking.

  • James W.Plachek, architect, Plachek Collection, BAHA Archives.

Photo credit abbreviations:
BAHA: Berkeley Architectural Heritage Assn.
BHS: Berkeley Historical Society