How 5 California Colleges Approach Campus Design

Geisel Library at UC San Diego, designed by William Pereira. Image © Darren Bradley

In this article, originally published in 2 parts on Metropolis Magazine as “Building a University: How 5 California Schools Approach Design” (Part 1 & Part 2), Sherin Wing investigates how different Californian universities utilize the design of their campus to express and enable their differing missions.

A school is more than just the sum of its intellectual records. Its legacy is very much tied to a physical place: its campus. More than a mascot or a symbol, the design of a campus and the buildings that form it greatly contribute to a university’s lasting identity.

The key, then, is how a school’s material identity advances its intellectual mission. For example, academic buildings often physically symbolize the type of scholarly exploration and research that takes place therein. Administrative centers, on the other hand, anchor the more idealistic work taking place in the lecture and science wings. At the same time, individual buildings can function collectively as didactic forums for the public, demonstrating such principles as energy and water-use efficiencies. Lastly, the circulation between the buildings themselves is important. Open green space, for instance, can accommodate crowds, lectures, and even protests, providing a counterpoint to the more stately, processional routes that crisscross a campus.

Clearly these are different, and at times conflicting, agendas. How are they ranked and pursued by individual universities? Five campus architects at different California universities reveal how similar factors work in concert to produce very different visions and results. For some the initial plan of a school continues to wield influence over future developments, while in other cases a commitment to architectural movements and types gives rise to an eclectic, flexible approach to campus design.

Find out how these 5 California Universities approach their architecture after the break

Were Brutalist Campus Buildings Designed to Suppress Student Protests?

UMass Dartmouth Library, by Paul Rudolph. Image Courtesy of UMass Dartmouth

In this fascinating article on the Slate design blog, J Bryan Lowder takes on a commonly held myth: that brutalist buildings on college campuses were designed to prevent student riots. From the egalitarian design ethos of to the fact that many of these buildings were around before the widespread student uprisings of the late 1960s, he finds no support for the theory – however he does end with a possible reason why these buildings are now regarded with such suspicion. You can read the full article here.

OLIN Collaborates with HNTB to Master Plan UC Berkeley’s California Memorial Stadium

UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium, Athletic Center and Plaza; Photograph © Tim Grifftih

In 2005, OLIN - a landscape architecture, urban design and planning studio – was selected to join HNTB Architects in the design of a master plan for University of California Berkley’s southeastern campus that aimed to unify its distinct elements and strengthen the social spaces of the campus. HNTB led the renovation of the California Memorial Stadium and worked with STUDIOS Architecture and OLIN to design the Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance.  These projects are unified by the design of the grounds which are just part of the transformation planned for the campus, which also includes the renovations and landscape design for the Haas School of Business, UC Berkley School of Law and the Piedmont Avenue.

TV Azteca Film & TV Sets Campus / at103

© Enrique Macias Martinez

Architects: at103
Location: Xico,
Design Team: Hanni Paz, Sara Ellenberger, Edward O’Donnell, Eugenio Lara ,Aida Hurtado Sofía Martínez, Maxime Hurdequint,Travis Hope
Area: 11,870 sqm
Proyect Year: 2012
Photographs: Enrique Macias Martinez