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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

David Neuman

Introduction by Donlyn Lyndon


DONLYN LYNDON: Next, we'll move right away to David Neuman. We've talked a lot about Stanford this morning. I don't why we at Berkeley do that. David has been caretaker there of the planning and design process. He's a University Architect and Associate Vice Provost for Planning at Stanford, and previously was at another campus that was mentioned briefly, at Irvine. So David Neuman. He's been a wonderful guardian of this campus through its transformation.

DAVID NEUMAN: I think after hearing Chancellor Berdahl's remarks this morning I should be into changing lights down at Irvine right now. And I'll talk to former President Peltason about that. At any rate, I will be as brief as possible. We were asked to do 10 minutes, and I'll try to do it. My staff didn't believe that was possible, but I'll try to prove them wrong.

I start with a quote from Charles Lynn, who was the Senior Editor at Architectural Record in October of '98. He said, 'Campus building should be like the courses that make up a curriculum. Each may be valuable on its own, but they must also work together to create a larger vision.' I think what's being said here is something that probably we'd all say to different audiences, and I'll try to, again, make it simple. What I did was a speech to anybody that will listen, whether they're architects that we've just hired, or whether they're new administrators, or whether they're senior faculty, some of them already have told me this themselves, as you heard this morning. But I call it campus building. Every project is about campus building. And you've heard that in different ways from the speakers previously. It's also, I'll say, for Donlyn's sake, I'll say it's about place-making. And further back I'd go and say it's about American utopianism. What we're creating what our campuses is symbolic of something that we hold near and dear to our heart in the United States, which is education. And more and more it has become research.

In fact, I'd like to offer three kind of rules of thumb, I think, for campus building. One, there must be a shared vision; that shared vision has to be at all levels. It has to be at the senior level. I have President Gerhard Casper, who is an excellent example of that right now. Without him we couldn't be doing the things we're doing. As well as at our Board of Trustees level, I recall that same thing with the Board of Regents. Leadership at the faculty level, whether it's in the Campus Planning Committee, like Paul chairs at our campus, or whether it's the faculty that are on the individual building committees, to recognize that what they're about is making places, they're not just finishing a building. And to the students. That ebbs and flows as I've found during my career. But we all know, students are very idealistic. The notion of having a utopian campus I have found to be something that frequently rings very clear to them.

Secondly, there's strategic implementation. Duke's examples of the in-fill between buildings, I think, is critical. I give that sermon anyplace anybody will listen to me as well. If you don't have the money, if you don't have the commitment to do those sorts of things on an implementation basis, the campus will not be successful as just a cluster of buildings, no matter how great the plan. And it has been said also, a plan is really for the process of campus building, I'd say, is about strategy and tactics. It's about implementation, as things change, as they change almost everyday. A year
or two ago, I had never heard of some of the sorts of research that our faculty are now doing. Jim Clark gave us $150 million three months ago to build a new building. The plan, our thinking, our process has to be adaptable to that. We have in all of our institutions, at the University of California, the other private schools that were mentioned, and at Stanford, some of the brightest people in the world, we all know that. We have to be able as planners and architects to foster that creativity, that ability to do what they do best, and that is to allow learning, to teach and to do research.

After World War II I think the major problems that occurred were specifically related to growth, the influx of technology, and the perennial problem of housing. Growth, both in terms of people, cars and affluence. I think that people were able to afford cars, people came with more families. Universities had a difficult time responding to that. Technology, both in terms of DOD and DOE research. I mean, we have the Stanford Linear Accelerator. I mean, how can a campus plan adapt to a mile-long linear accelerator very easily? Well, fortunately, we had a lot of land. But we also had linear accelerators on the campus, as may Cal, I don't know. But those sort of technologies that came right after the atomic age was born had a tremendous impact on campuses. The types of buildings, the research buildings that we've seen, some of those ugly boxes, were designed because they were the types of space that accommodated that sort of research. Some of them were ugly because money was put into the equipment and not necessarily into the architecture.

So it's my view that it's important to hold true to the tenets of the plan, to keep in mind something that Stefanos said as well, and that is that a campus is a green, it's a controlled set of outdoor as well as indoor spaces, be it at Columbia, or be it in California. And I think we also have to bear in mind that most of our campuses have some residential qualities to them, so they do become in a way, city-like. But we also are in host communities.

I think the successes that campuses have had over time have been in being able to adjust to this emphasis on research. And obviously, the quality of research that's been done on campuses nonpareil in the world, the University of California, Stanford, and Cal Tech and the like in this state, have been remarkable in being able to adapt to that and accommodate the needs of our country, as well as now the world in terms of what's been developed.

I think another success is that campuses have led the way in historic preservation and the values that are associated with them. I read somewhere the other day that historic preservation has become the religion of the 21st century in the United States. I wouldn't go quite that far, but I think what we're doing is coming of age. I was thinking as Duke was showing his slides, I was in graduate school at UCLA for four years, walked the Grand Axis going to one of the end points, the parking structure--I never knew I was on the Grand Axis. And I'm glad to know that today. But I think had there been a better sense of historic preservation there probably would have been a better sense of even how to front those new buildings and accept that historic preservation is more than individual buildings, it's about ensembles. That's what campuses are about are ensembles, the spaces they create, how they relate to one another, how you can in-fill and readapt them, the buildings, as necessary, or remove them. And some buildings just, frankly, wear out past their time, and they do need to be replaced.

In terms of failures, this could be a litany, but I'll keep it short. I called it 'suburbanization,' and I've got a couple slides that kind of acknowledge that. Stefanos used another term for it. Paul and I have about the same slides for the first couple, so we can move past those quickly. Suburbanization, which I'll get to in just a second--accommodation of cars, and of course, the parking, isolation of individual buildings, loss of a sense of the entire place, which is totally detrimental to the notion of collegiality, college.

This is Stanford and this is Olmsted, and I didn't have one with Jane in it, but she was very much involved in all these things.

Paul showed you these [slides] this morning and talked about how Jane Stanford actually started to move away from the original plan. She did it while Leland was still alive because the museum was built then and so was the chemistry building. But we had Mother Nature to intervene in 1906, and so we got a second chance.

This is giving you an idea of the suburbanization issue and the focus particularly on this period after World War II to the present. This was Stanford as a lot of alumni would still like to remember it, in approximately 1940. And that was the figure ground, if you will, the black buildings were the ones that, the original buildings, if you will, of the campus, up until 1906, that were remaining after the earthquake. The red buildings were the buildings that were built between 1906 and 1938. In 1938, we had 2.7 million square feet.

This slide on the left is an image of about 1955. And you can see the sprawl, or the suburbanization, as I call it. We are blessed or cursed, depending on who you talk to by having a lot of land. I happen to think it's a blessing, but you have to manage it as a resource of course, and so I don't think 1,400 acres is too much to have. I remember Irvine, as well. And it's a matter of how you use it and how you're prepared to reuse it. At this point in time, though, I think there was the kind of 'lets use it all as fast as we could,' and we managed to sprawl out pretty fast. And we of course, the big black buildings up to the left that appeared, as we have a medical center now that came from San Francisco that appears on the screen, and we have a shopping center. Now, I won't go into that. And then all the fine-grained texture on your right-hand side is housing, and then some of the red to the left and the black to the left is higher density housing. But a major, major thing for us all now, and it was over that period after World War II until about the 70's, and now it's come back with a vengeance.

But this suburbanization has now caught up with us. That, by the way, is about 13 million square feet. So we went from World War II at about under 3 million to about 13 million, and that's academic and student housing.

And we had a rationalization of the plan. This is actually a Thomas Church drawing. It is so different from what Olmsted envisioned, and it tries to rationalize, at least in my mind, the separation of all these buildings and the in-filling of a lot of the spaces. And you can see all the ubiquitous parking lots. And if you look very carefully in the middle of that plan on the area we call the 'Oval,' which is in front of the main quad, you'll see there's actually a four-lane boulevard that goes underneath the Oval and pops out on the other side. So the car was accommodated not just with parking lots, but very intrusive roadways, and so on. And so in 1987, we had this complex on the right of both red tile roof buildings and not red tile roof buildings, parking, roadways, and a giant hodgepodge. And Paul has talked about the subsequent project.

I can say this at Cal and you'll probably all laugh, so I'm going to say it. Stanford is egotistical enough to start the second century in 1991. So we're on our own centuries, and we started our planning process at our centennial, which is what that was about. And we started something we call the 'Plan for the Second Century.' And what we did, not surprising, is try to go back and look at what was the original plan about, was it good or bad, what were the tenets that we could adapt, and so on. And, basically, we found it was a damn good plan and it was strong enough that we could recover it if we wanted to, and so we decided to. And one of the things that was important is that coinciding with this kind of at-grade planning, thinking of buildings only, was the notion that the buildings are just one part of a campus, right? There's a lot of discussion about that today, but think of all the infrastructure that has to be there to support it, and the infrastructure in my jargon also includes the landscape, which is so critical.

And so this notion of adaptive reuse of buildings. We've been through most of our wave of seismic strengthening, thank you, and we're now moving into our second phase, which would include buildings like the one we're in, and we are also in the process--you saw this building earlier--of doing in-fill, selected in-fill, and intensification in that in-fill with development. So in planners' parlance, we are increasing the floor area ratio of the campus, decreasing the ground area coverage. So what we're trying to do is recapture those outdoor space, those organizing components of the plan, both the axis and the courtyards at several levels.

So here's a slide I developed to go out into the community, and here's one of those ubiquitous consultants that we hire to help us with community planning. I think his name's Lyndon or something like that. And this is Donlyn helping us out a couple of years ago. But as you all know, we're in a bigger community these days, and the whole issues around SEQA, community involvement, and so forth, even State Universities aren't protected from that, as you well know. So these kind of things, in our case, entitlements, the housing, transportation, and quality of space type of things I just mentioned, and then this notion that we're in the region and we're there for good, and that we can't be isolated and placed apart in the context of looking at the overall regional problems of housing and pollution and traffic and so on.

So has the classical master plan gone the way of the dinosaur? I'd submit no, but it has to adapt. And I would submit that you need those five tenets: an enduring framework, compelling landscape, strong contextual architecture--I'll use that overworked term--controlled perimeter treatments, and carefully designated interactions with your neighbors and within the system itself. And that goes back to then again, having the shared vision of what these are, strategically implementing them as opportunities and constraints evolve, and committing resources to that texture, that fabric that holds all this together. Those are the three tenets, I believe, that make up campus building, rather than just buildings. Thank you very much.



As University Architect and the Associate Vice Provost for Planning at Stanford University, David Neuman guides the overall land use planning, physical design and cultural resources stewardship of the 8,2000 campus, medical center, research park, marine station, and other related areas during the current intensive period of capital facilities renewal / replacement and real estate development exceeding $1.25 billion in magnitude. A Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, he previously served as Campus Architect and Associate Vice Chancellor for Planning at the University of California, Irvine.

Neuman holds degrees in liberal arts, architecture and American studies, has completed post-graduate studies in urban planning and environmental studies, is a contributing editor of Planning for Higher Education, is a frequent speaker at national and regional planning conferences, has consulted on planning for several major university systems, and organizes an annual Stanford lecture series on architecture and landscape. Campus plans, historic preservation projects, and individual building and landscape designs he has worked on have won nearly fifty national, state and regional honors. His publications include Critical Architecture and Contemporary Culture (Oxford Press, 1994) and the recently published Guidebook to the Stanford Campus (Princeton Architectural Press, 1999). He is working on a third book, The Continuance of the Classical Tradition.

 

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