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Pepper Canyon Amphitheater  rendering.

The Pepper Canyon Amphitheater will open in the Spring of 2022, contributing to UC San Diego’s role as a top-of-mind cultural destination. Image credit: Safdie Rabines Architects.

Pepper Canyon Amphitheater Breaks Ground in Exciting New Entrance to the Campus

UC San Diego celebrated the groundbreaking of the Pepper Canyon Amphitheater project this fall, reaching a new milestone in the university’s plan to become a top-of-mind cultural destination. Located in the heart of the Pepper Canyon neighborhood, this open-air amphitheater with seating for 2,850 patrons will open in the spring of 2022, benefitting students, faculty, staff and the wider community.

The amphitheater is the final piece of a wide range of significant improvements to the area, including landscaping of open spaces, east façade enhancements for three existing Visual Arts Buildings, a Stuart Collection art installation and the construction of Rupertus Walk, which will connect the university to a stop on the UC San Diego Blue Line Trolley extension. Adjacent to the trolley is the Design and Innovation Building, which will open in the spring of 2021 as a showcase for UC San Diego’s creativity and entrepreneurship.

“The Pepper Canyon project is an illustration of innovation, sustainability and building community,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “The focus on open spaces, the arts and an enticing view into the creation of technology at the Design and Innovation Building should spark interest and excitement upon arrival to the campus.”

Pepper Canyon area art installation on walkway.

A new art installation close to the UC San Diego Blue Line Trolley extension will be experienced by walking along a spine poem that can be read in both directions, either entering or leaving the campus. Image credit: Safdie Rabines Architects.

When the UC San Diego Blue Line Trolley extension opens in late 2021, the campus will be connected like never before to many areas of the county, with direct service from San Ysidro to UC San Diego. The community will benefit from access to compelling research talks, excellent patient care and world-class arts performances. Faculty, staff and students will be provided with a safe, reliable and inexpensive alternative to driving. Students on campus will have a direct path to entertainment, restaurants and cultural opportunities in downtown San Diego as well as to UC San Diego Downtown. The trolley extension will also allow for travel to the Mexican border within an hour, strengthening ties with educational institutions in Mexico and supporting UC San Diego’s participation in Health Frontiers in Tijuana Student-run Free Clinic and cross border community stations.

The Stuart Collection, which was designed to enrich the cultural, intellectual and scholarly life of the campus and community, will bring its 22nd installation to the Pepper Canyon area, providing a poetic and engaging welcome to the campus for trolley riders. The artwork by Ann Hamilton—a MacArthur Fellow and recipient of the National Medal of the Arts—will be experienced by walking along a wide path within Rupertus Walk leading into the heart of campus. The pathway will be made from basalt blocks hewn with words and phrases drawn from the writings of authors from many disciplines, all associated with UC San Diego and the history of the site. The texts, organized along a central spine poem, can be read in both directions, either entering or leaving the campus. Hamilton has long been interested in the movement of people, and saw the project as an opportunity to create an immersive space and shared experience, weaving literature, movement and the intersection of the two into a new and profound entrance into the university.

aerial map of Pepper Canyon area.

This aerial map shows the Rupertus Walk, which will connect the trolley stop to Ridge Walk.

Rupertus Walk will connect the trolley stop to Ridge Walk, which now extends north to RIMAC Arena and south to UC San Diego’s Joan and Irwin Jacobs Theatre District. Pedestrian and bike-friendly pathways will continue to be added throughout campus neighborhoods to enhance and encourage the movement of people and bikes through the campus core and to mass transportation options. Current UC San Diego students had the opportunity to participate in a real-world experiential learning opportunity—the Urban Design Challenge 2020—to submit proposals for an interim plan to improve micromobility, pedestrian safety and wayfinding as our campus transforms.

Another force for forging connections on campus and with the larger community will be the Design and Innovation Building. This 74,000-square-foot collaborative facility will be a creative hub for Jacobs School of Engineering, Visual Arts, Cognitive Science, the Office of Innovation and Commercialization, campus departments and the Alumni Association to encourage new ideas, services and products such as biomedical devices and wearable monitors.

“This project marks a natural evolution of the campus, inviting the community to spend time at one of San Diego's top locations for innovation, art, culture and entertainment,” Chancellor Khosla continued. “UC San Diego will become a top destination for tourists and San Diego County residents alike.”