The Eleanor Roosevelt College, an undergraduate campus at University of California San Diego, creates a home for a college which had previously been spread throughout the campus, lacking a cohesive unity. Located on eleven acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Salk Institute, the site drops over seventy feet to the west, ending at a busy boulevard, North Torrey Pines Road. The site is bound on the east by Ridge Walk, one of the University’s primary pedestrian thoroughfares, while Scholars Drive, a primary bus route, cuts the site in two. Shielding the campus from the traffic to the west, connecting to Ridge Walk on the east and overcoming the division caused by Scholars Drive were among the primary planning concerns.
Architects: Safdie Rabines Architects and Moshe Safdie & Associates
Location: La Jolla, California, USA
Structural Engineer: Nabih Youssef Associates
Civil Engineer: Flores Lund Consultants
Landscape: Wallace Roberts & Todd
Lighting: Robert Morrow
Project Area: 450,000 sqf
Photographs: Timothy Hursley
The 450,000 square foot college includes residence halls, apartments, dining and meeting facilities, student lounges, academic offices, computer labs and a five-level parking garage for 1,000 cars. The college is organized around a series of large outdoor spaces, terraces and promenades that define the character of the project and take advantage of San Diego’s mild climate. Main entry points to the campus are the Ridge Walk, on the northeast corner, and at the Great Hall on the southern edge. The west side of the campus is organized around the Green, a large expanse of lawn intended as the campus’ main outdoor congregating area. The Green acts as the heart of the campus, anchored on the north by the Dining Hall and flanked by residence halls and apartments. Similarly flanked by housing with overhead apartment bridges, the Promenade is the organizational element of the east side of the campus and culminates in the Great Hall on one end and Provost complex on the other. A pedestrian bridge over Scholars Drive and a series of ramping and stepped walkways extending downhill through the site weave the two sides of the campus together. To preserve the site’s panoramic ocean views, buildings do not exceed four stories and step down the sloping site, and the parking garage is sunken.
The housing, which is all wood frame construction, includes space for 450 students in residence halls and 740 students in apartments, with a variety of unit types available including flats and townhouses. The Residence Halls are made up of 4-story buildings which flank the Green. They are a mixture of single and double occupancy rooms that are grouped into suites of 11 students, each of which has its own kitchen and living area with a west facing terrace. The apartments, in suites of 4 students, include sizeable kitchens and living rooms; the lower levels with sunken gardens and upper levels with terraces. Housing units typically face onto public plazas and courtyards to encourage interaction between residents, and create a sense of community within the campus.
The International House portion of the college contains housing for students and faculty, as well as the Great Hall which provides gathering space for up to 500 occupants. The Great Hall opens onto a large roof terrace with ocean views and has a large catering kitchen. The Hall itself includes a high, curved, glulam beam ceiling with a glass curtain wall facing northwest towards the ocean, with a fireplace and piano to create an extended living room atmosphere for the International House.
The Dining Hall is a full service facility and includes a large dining area, dining patio, kitchen and adjacent conference area. The Dining Hall, which is double height with curved glulam beams, can accommodate up to 800 students and is surrounded by outdoor terraces oriented toward the ocean, and the Green.
The Provost building is located at the north end of the campus and forms a gateway into the College, in conjunction with the Dining Hall, and unites the entrance from Ridge Walk with the Promenade. The building’s narrow footprint allows for naturally ventilated office spaces which house the academic and administrative offices and computer labs for the College.
Set into the hillside is a five-level, 1,000 car capacity parking garage. While the structure sits half-underground, screens and trellises have been added to the exposed sides in order to camouflage the cars and further integrate the structure with the surrounding buildings and landscape.
The College’s overall linear and formal organization utilizes gentle sweeping curves which allow views to gradually unfold, creating movement and a continued interaction between the indoors and outdoors. Its diverse outdoor spaces, including gardens, courtyards and pedestrian streets, are used to establish a hierarchy that gives this College a village-like quality and allows for formal and informal interaction to occur. This hierarchy is shared by both the indoor and outdoor areas; private indoor rooms relate to smaller, more intimate gardens while the larger public buildings share vast common outdoor expanses. This interaction of spaces expands living areas and fosters a sense of community for the students.