In this article, originally published in 2 parts on Metropolis Magazine as "Building a University: How 5 California Schools Approach Campus 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