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‘UCSD by Design’ Series Celebrates
Campus Art and Architecture at 50

A new guidebook and exhibit also explore the university’s built environment

Sept. 8, 2010

By Inga Kiderra


Beginning in the fall of the university’s 50th anniversary year, the history and future development of UC San Diego’s built environment will be explored and celebrated in “UCSD by Design: Art, Architecture, and Urbanism in the Campus Context,” the centerpiece of which is a five-part public lecture and discussion series beginning Sept. 30.

Also celebrating the university’s built environment are the recently published book “University of California, San Diego: The Campus Guide” (Princeton Architectural Press) and an exhibit on campus art and architecture in the Arts Library, opening Sept. 29.

The story of UCSD’s built environment is a story of its own time. Unlike many other prominent regional institutions with reproduced historical architectural styles, UCSD reflects in its design the modern and contemporary eras in which it evolved. The buildings and public spaces—animated in many instances by the site-specific sculptures created for the renowned Stuart Collection—range from cutting-edge examples of modernism and brutalism to, in the new millennium, post-modern structures that embody the latest ideas about sustainability and connecting with community.

Geisel Architecture

The campus has buildings by some of the world’s most celebrated architects, including Charles Gwathmey, Charles Moore, William Pereira, Antoine Predock, Rob Quigley, Michael Rotondi and Moshe Safdie. The Stuart Collection sculptures are by the likes of  John Baldessari, Tim Hawkinson, Robert Irwin, Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik, Niki de Saint Phalle and Alexis Smith. The campus guide, which features Pereira’s iconic Geisel Library on its cover, presents significant architectural works and art across the UCSD campus.

“The UC San Diego campus is unique among American universities,” said Seth Lerer, dean of Arts and Humanities at UCSD. “It is a site of original and adventurous architecture. It is a living museum of contemporary public art. It is a research university brilliantly in synch with its natural environment.

“The ‘UCSD by Design’ project explores these features of the campus by bringing together art historians, architects, university professionals and community leaders in celebration of our 50th anniversary. Our year-long series of lectures, events and publications,” Lerer said, “will challenge and enlighten everyone concerned with the place of the university in the built environment and the place of the individual in the university.”

UCSD has grown from a compact, rustic campus to the vibrant, urban community of today. From its inception, UCSD has continuously developed, extended and refined its master plan. As part of the implementation of these plans, since his arrival in 1985, Campus Architect Boone Hellmann has assumed a lead role in selecting and directing architects whose buildings have won critical acclaim. Hellman, recognizing UCSD's distinct architectural landscape, commissioned the campus guide several years ago. UCSD is one of only two UC campuses to publish such a guide with Princeton Architectural Press.

“When I came to work at UCSD in 1985, I was drawn by the architecture that already existed and the opportunity to help add to this legacy,” said Hellmann. “‘UCSD by Design’ gives us an opportunity to take a look at what we’ve accomplished and to share this rich collection of designs with the public and the design community.”

The “UCSD by Design” lecture and discussion series begins Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 with Yale University architectural historian Kurt W. Forster, founding director of the Getty Research Institute. His talk is entitled “Sea, Sky and Science: The UCSD Campus Between the Real and the Ideal.” 

Following Forster, the series features art historian and J. Paul Getty Museum Director Emeritus John Walsh (Nov. 4 and 5); curator, critic, artist and Yale Art School Dean Robert Storr (Feb. 3 and 4); architect Jean-Philippe Vassal and landscape architect/environmental theorist Gilles Clément (Mar. 3 and 4), and renowned architectural historian and critic Charles Jencks (April 21 and 22).

Each “UCSD by Design” lecture/discussion event consists of a Thursday evening keynote at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla, beginning at 7 p.m., followed the next morning, from 10 a.m. to noon, by a moderated discussion at UCSD.  At the moderated discussions, the speakers will be joined, appropriate to the topic, by invited architects, architectural historians, landscape architects, art historians, Stuart Collection artists, urban planners, campus planners, and academics in related disciplines.

Admission to all the lectures and discussions is free.  Information: http://ucsdbydesign.ucsd.edu

“University of California, San Diego: The Campus Guide” (Princeton Architectural Press)is written by San Diego design journalist Dirk Sutro and is organized into 10 map-guided walking tours.

Illustrated with photographs by renowned architectural photographers David Hewitt and Anne Garrison, the book presents a history of the growth of the campus as a colorful journey from the Sputnik era through the upheavals of the sixties to the present day.

“In a few hours spent wandering the campus…,” writes Sutro, “one can sample a century’s worth of modern architecture…from modest wood buildings to brutalist concrete structures and sleek designs in steel and glass. Underlying these variations in aesthetics and engineering are two prime forces that have shaped the campus’s layout and its architecture: the topography – a coastal sandstone bluff covered with scrubby native plants and stands of old eucalyptus trees –and the university’s ceaseless quest for innovation.”
The book is on sale at the UCSD Bookstore.

Additional information: http://www.papress.com/

A book signing will take place at the opening of the exhibition “Modern UCSD:  Celebrating 50 years of Campus Architecture,” on Sept. 29, beginning at 2 p.m., in the Arts Library, on the ground floor of Geisel Library. The exhibition will remain on view through Dec. 3. Viewing hours are library hours: or 858-534-3361.

“UCSD by Design: Art, Architecture, and Urbanism in the Campus Context” is a collaborative project of the UCSD Division of Arts and Humanities, UCSD Campus Architect/Office of Facilities Design and Construction, the Stuart Collection, and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.  Contributing sponsors include UCSD Academic Affairs, UCSD Business & External Affairs, UCSD Resource Management and Planning, UCSD Extension, the Jacobs School of Engineering, the Helen Edison Lecture Series, UCSD-TV, UCSD Media Services, the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library and its Dialogues in Art and Architecture program, and the UCSD 50th Anniversary Executive Committee.

Media Contact:

Inga Kiderra, 858-822-0661 or ikiderra@ucsd.edu
Dolores Davies, 858-534-0667 or ddavies@ucsd.edu

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