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"Success and Failure in Campus Design in the Post-World War II Era: An Historical View and Focus on California"
February 10, 2000

Charles Oakley

Introduction by Donlyn Lyndon


DONLYN LYNDON: We are going to now proceed with discussions from two people in sequence who have been remarkable in being able to work within the system that Stefanos just described, and to make real efforts, real successes in bringing their campuses back into important places. First, Charles "Duke" Oakley from UCLA, and then later, David Neuman. Both have been people that I have persistently heard architects speak well of. That's not always the case relative to architects trying to achieve things within a campus structure. Charles Oakley is Campus Architect at UCLA, has been responsible for an enormous amount of building, and for many billion dollars worth of projects already done or underway, but has managed to use with his architectural training and his understanding of process, his understanding of what makes good environments, has through a variety of experiences has managed to dedicate himself, as he says, to regaining a new sense of coherence for the campus.

CHARLES OAKLEY: Thank you Donlyn, and thank you Stefanos for those terrific words. I do hope that the project you're working on for us will meet its schedule a little better than that... but the quality is there.

Well, I'm going to briefly go through a little history of UCLA. I know up here in the north you resist this: there is no history at UCLA. We do have a little, we do have a little history, and it has some successes and some failures. And, of course, the successes are all in the last 15 years, the time that I've been there. No, that's not true, of course. But I've buried most of mine and you won't see them in this show. I have a few slides that I'll do the history, and a little bit about how we have done some planning, then a few pictures at the end of what I think is very important and is often overlooked in the grand scale, and that is, the texture of the small or the little architecture that really makes a sense of campus.

The slide on the left is the outline of UCLA in 1926. I often use this in community meetings to point out the fact that we were there before they were. It doesn't help. The slide on the right is contemporary UCLA. The high rises snaking along the bottom are Wilshire Boulevard; in the mist at the top is Northridge, which affected our campus in 1994. What you see there is 420 acres, and Stefanos already gave my statistics, so we can go onto the next.

The original plans for the campus, which were developed between 1926 and 1929, and in the fall of 1929 UCLA opened, were done by George Kelham, a fine Bay Area architect. You see a manifestation of that plan on the left, as Stefanos had an abstracted version of that. The important part here is the east-west axis running from the right to the left. The rendering on the right, which is done from sort of the southeast, is an image of the campus, it's not the actual original plan, but nonetheless gives some sense of the building along the ridge that Stefanos referred to. I often think those hills in the background look a lot more like the East Bay than they do the Santa Monica Mountains, and I wonder if the renderer ever came down, but nonetheless, it gives some idea of the Beaux Arts-based planning that organized the thoughts about the early campus.

That early campus, and this is a picture from probably the spring of 1929 on the left. The building with the two towers is Royce Hall. The building in the foreground is Powell Library. Actually, only Royce Hall was originally named. It was named for Josiah Royce, who never actually visited UCLA but was a scholar, educated at Berkeley, and was a Harvard professor that was the philosophical idealist that Ernest Carroll Moore, or original provost, we now call chancellor, thought was terrific and named after that hall, and then the slide on the right is a little later, probably 1930. But you see here, you see the arroyo--and I'll refer to that again in just a minute--but also note that here was... I love these pictures because it's so clearly an act of human will, and it is organized and it's thoughtful for the future. It takes a piece of land in the central courtyard, which is now our 'Great Space,' was in those days the contained space, the defined space, and the rest of it were just rolling hills.

I'll now go through just a quick series of what happened over time. The slide on the left is about 1940, and you can see that that arroyo is starting to be filled in--this actually is probably the mid-40's--the arroyo is starting to be filled in. And then on the slide on the right, which is the early 50's, the campus moves to the south, that's the medical center under construction, the hospital.

On the left is about 1962. On the upper left in that slide are the high rise dormitories that were recently being occupied. This just knocks me out that here you are, you have a relatively confined area, and they build the dormitories in suburbia, you have to commute to go to college. It's sort of an odd mind set to me, but I'm a different time. You see Westwood Boulevard going all the way through, down the middle of the slide. But you see just a vastly larger campus than those first early buildings. And then the slide on the right is probably 1990--Westwood Village in the foreground, and the sense of this scale of the campus as it exists today is pretty clear.

All right, post-War and what happened, and successes and failures. The slide on the left is a rendering done by Allison & Allison. George Kelham hooked up with local architects Allison & Allison, who typical of all local architects then shoved out the out-of-towner, and took over and became the supervising campus architects, up through World War II, at which point they were supplanted by Wordman & Beckett. And my sense is Wordman had the talent; he soon died, and we had well, Beckett for a long time. But you can see on the plan on the left, the Beaux Arts basis at least to the point where it's organized by axes, there's a hierarchy--it's very important, there's a hierarchy of open spaces, the buildings are making the open spaces. There's a hierarchy of buildings too, some are more important than others. The sense of your place in existence is supported by the architecture.

Now, in the mid-50's into the early 60's, in response to modernist planning principles, they thought up a new way to organize the campus, and the orange dotted line, as you can see there, was the so-called 'Grand Axis.' And the Grand Axis was supposed to be enough of an organizing principle, so that you could then dispose buildings loosely related to that, and there would still be some coherence, hopefully. And there is some thought in here, that you can see the green patch at both the north and the south of that were major open spaces, and then the bluish or lavender, whatever they come up on the slide, buildings were the ones over that period of time. And I just want to take you down a little walk down this Grand Axis because... To most people, by the way, at UCLA's campus, they're unaware of a Grand Axis, and in real life it sort of didn't organize anything.

So taking this Grand Axis, this is at the south end, it's Franz Hall, and you see the converted fountain in front there, that plaza was the southern green bunch. And then looking from Franz Hall north, you see on the right the inverted fountain again, or the world's largest toilet bowl. And Knudsen Hall on the left, Physics, by Neptune & Thomas--and that was the best building they ever did. And they continue to practice. Going up the Grand Axis, you come then to Bunch Hall by Maynard Lyndon, and by far the best building of this period, and it actually makes... if anybody knows about the Grand Axis, it's because of this building, which is on POT, and as you can see you walk under the building, then as you go through you come to Dixon Art Center, which you see here, Pereira, 1965. And actually, the people in our Art Department are convinced that when this building was built that UCLA was expecting to phase out the Art Department because they couldn't imagine you would willfully build a building like this for the Art Department. And that's the terminus, and then just to your left, as you go up, there's the now-called Young Research Library, for many years the University Research Library. Chuck Young deserves a better building to be named after him. By the way, this is by Quincy Jones. It's a really bad building. And the Franz Hall, the first one I showed you, was by Paul Williams, who did wonderful houses, he was a good architect. So it's not always in the architect per se, it has something to do with the circumstances in which they work.

Then looking back down from Dixon Hall, with that library on your right, looking back south on the Grand Axis, looking under Bunche, that's the north face of Bunche Hall, there you see really the one place where the Grand Axis is sort of noticeable.

And actually, here, in closing, the Murphy Sculpture Garden, which is quite a wonderful feature on our campus, but on the right, the north face of Bunch Hall really does provide a nice neutral backdrop and definition to that. On the left, you see Dixon, the Pereira building, and its sort of ambiguous relationship to the sculpture garden, which it doesn't particularly help in the definition or the relationship of either the open space or the building.

Okay, so then in more recent times, what have we done to try to grapple with this found object of UCLA in the latter days of the 20th century and make some organization? And so I'm going to show one small example, what we've really referred it to are--and a lot of the UC campuses have--two things, really: area plans, and what I call doing interim master plan--and as we've seen this morning all master plans are interim, and so if you call it interim then you don't have to take it to the Faculty Senate, or whatever... or even higher up.

So we did Northeast Area Plan specifically to try to site some buildings in an area that felt to many people already over-built. This was thinking about where we might put the Anderson Graduate School of Management, 350,000 gross square feet. In-house we looked and essentially we said, 'Okay, you could put it here at this place that's just northwest of Royce Hall, you could put it here if you do certain things: if you make a central open space, if you connect the campus north-south on Sycamore Alley, if, if, if, and so on.' And then because we're architects and we're trying to communicate with architects, we do it with drawings and models and so on.

And then we hired some architects who were purported to be sympathetic with our views. These diagrams show some more of the missed opportunities and so on, on the blue bubble on the left. Also, you can see an important thing here where under the blue circle on the left, you see Circle Drive North, and on the far side, you see Circle Drive North going well outside a blue footprint of a building, which is, indeed, the design that ultimately the paying partners, although the design partner Harry Cobb came up with all the little lines now connect, magically. And it's very important for our campus.

So two things. We went out and hired an architect who was clearly sympathetic to the campus goals, and then thinking with them how to keep it in the character of the campus. On the right you see the before, and on the left you can see the completed Anderson School, and how it fits into that general area. The slide on the left was a walkway we call Sycamore Alley before; and Sycamore on the right, Sycamore Alley after, with the Anderson School receiving the north end of that. And you can see the stairs leading on up into a central open space. And on the left you see that central open space, and looking back, the far end of Sycamore Alley leads to the tower of Kerchoff Hall, which was the original Student Union. Just to give you sort of some sense of that, Harry Cobb designed the Anderson School, and his typical style--he's a modernist, a minimalist, in many respects, but he followed our planning principles and built it out of materials that were compatible with those buildings around it, and at a scale that was appropriate to our campus.

That's a single example of many that we've done over the years, trying to give some directions, and then acting as sort of coaches and cheerleaders for those who are actually designing the work.

A couple of pictures of the campus in a before and after form for something else that I feel very strongly about, and that is, sort of the texture of the campus itself. The slide on the left is Powell Library in the foreground, Royce above, with our so-called Dixon Quad or Royce-Powell Quad in about 1980, maybe '79; and the one on the right is about 1996 or '7. And we'll just mostly go around this area and show a few things, although I do draw your attention to the bottom of the left slide where there's a white box in-between the arms of Powell Library, which was a stacks addition done in the late 50's/early 60's by A.C. Martin. And then the building as it was seismically renovated and done-over in 1995, it was completed by Udell.

And just a closer look at the south end of Powell Library before and south end Powell Library afterwards. And it's a different... I mean, in most of our campuses now, we wouldn't allow someone to put the big white box of stacks in there. It's a different time, it's a different mind set, and I'm much encouraged by that. But it still takes an active intelligence to carry out an adequate design.

This is the case of just a walkway between our original chemistry and biology building, and now home of anthropology on the left, that slide, that's Haynes Hall, and then the slide on the right is that same walkway just when we put high voltage lines under the walkway, and we brought it back into a little more campus-y feel. It's just texture in this case.

A similar thing on another walkway. This is not rocket science, but it has to do with care for the campus, where you see just the addition on the ground plane of some brick...

We all love accessibility, me as much as anyone. The slide on the left, I shudder to think that that's what one has to do in the name of accessibility. The exact same spot if we came back and redid simply the walkways: you don't have to have bunkers to accomplish this same thing. And I don't know why the ramp on the left was built that way, and it doesn't seem necessary.

At the west end of the main Royce-Powell Quad, we had another accessibility problem, in that you can see on the left how it was; on the right, part of the solution, which was a redoing of the edge of a raised platform.

As I say, we always had a water feature at the west end of the Royce-Powell Quad. And one can do better than that.

And, finally, a picture of Royce, a picture of Powell around the fountain. And a lot of this has to do, I will tell you, it has to do with the recognition on the part of the administration that the quality of the campus is a critical component of the strength of the institution. And when you have that understanding, then the ability to make a fine campus is empowered. It's as simple as that. And also having Chuck Young as a chancellor is a big help too. That's it. Thank you.

PROFESSOR LYNDON: Thank you very much, Duke. A wonderful tour of what has become a very complicated place, is now becoming a complicated place with wonderful moments.



Charles W. "Duke" Oakley has been Campus Architect at UCLA since the spring of 1986. During that time UCLA has put in place more than $1.5 billion dollars of total project cost. There is presently about $2 billion worth of capital projects under management or in planning for the campus. Duke received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth and a Masters of Architecture from Penn where he studied with Louis I. Kahn. After architecture school he worked for I.M. Pei and Partners in New York City. He moved to Los Angeles in 1976 and worked in the Los Angeles office of John Carl Warnecke & Associates, of which he became Director of Design in 1982 and Office Director in 1984. During his tenure at UCLA the campus has undergone a transformation from a suburban to a quasi-urban density. It has been his charge during this ongoing transformation to regain a sense of coherence for the campus, without lapsing into a mindless repetition of campus kitsch, and to improve the quality of both the architecture and the campus spaces created or reformed thereby.

 

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