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"Rethinking the First UC Campus and Designing the Tenth at Merced"
February 10, 2000

Thomas E. Lollini


Most people have had a chance to say just about everything I was going to say. But there are just a couple things that I would like to speak to, both in terms of Berkeley's planning for the future, as well as Merced's. My own experience involves new town planning on tabla rasa sites in Asia and Africa, as well as redevelopment planning or urban design planning in American cities. And I've always felt more comfortable working with an existing context, and Berkeley certainly has that. In fact, it has a terrific context, and the opportunities here really lie in that zone between the campus and the city, as well as those places that we saw marked in red on the seismic map. I think that if you were to look at the susceptible sites, or what I believe to be susceptible sites in the environs around the campus, as well as those sites on the campus, you might be talking something in the range of 20% of the area that's really susceptible to significant change over the next 20 to 40 years. And I think that's a very exciting opportunity.

I think the other interesting aspect of today's presentations is that the original visions for the campus showed the City as a gray zone, while the City's current general plan shows the campus as a gray zone. And I think really what we want to be able to do in this process is link those into a single vision and to work with the city toward shaping that.

The making of places and creating social cohesion in my view in this planning process is as much about the programming of buildings as it is about the programming of spaces. And I would look to this process to develop guidelines, so that the activities planned within these buildings in terms of their public relationships are really part of the programming discipline that we apply to all projects no matter what they are. We're also looking at more flexible and sustainable models. One of the buildings that we're looking at now, we're looking at building taller floor-to-floor heights just to accommodate any potential future use that might occur in that building, and not just the build to fit the next coming use as we know. We had an experience with a chemistry building here on campus, where the interior planning went through three planning cycles in the process of designing and raising money and then building the building. And so I think the idea of building shell and core and tented fit-outs is probably something that we ought to look at in terms of a private sector model.

Judy has talked a lot about the strategic drivers of our planning process, so I won't dwell on those. But I do think many of the thrusts in academic interdisciplinary research and instruction, and the idea of mixed use in urban planning and development create an interesting blend of opportunities for us to work with the City. We are looking more broadly at this issue of what Duke mentioned, of center versus circumference. And this notion that there may be many UC Berkeley campuses in the region, and that the University might play a more direct role in revitalization and economic development within its sub-region as Stanford has is one notion that's definitely on the table. So we're looking very serious at Oakland and Richmond, and our properties in Albany as well.

The only other thing I'd like to point out is that we're also looking for partnerships wherever we might find them. The program that lies before us is a $1- to $2 billion program within the next 10 to 15 years, and probably another billion after that, and the State is not necessarily going to have that kind of money to support our efforts. And so working with the private sector, with public-public partnerships, is going to be a key part of what we're exploring as we move forward.

I think that the spaces and the places on this campus, we have been making progress, in spite of the many mistakes made in the last 50 years. Memorial Glade, I think, is a wonderful example of reclaiming that original vision of the campus. And I think Evans Hall presents a wonderful opportunity for all of us. For those of you who may not be aware, we do have to paint it because the surface leaks, and we can't tear it down yet. So one of my thoughts is that we can have a design competition to see how we should paint that building. Well, I'll leave that to Harrison and his classes.

With respect to Merced, I've been active in state growth management issues for about 10 years, and I was a little bit dismayed, actually, of the original selection of the site myself, feeling that central Fresno or somewhere along the rail line or the freeway was a much better notion of how to look for sustainable development patterns in the Central Valley. But I would say that I would hope that knowing that this site is only, I believe, six miles from downtown Merced, that, in fact, this won't be able to be a new town, but it certainly might be a thriving district within a larger metropolis. And that I would both caution and advise that the University look with the city and with the other landowners in the area at a broader plan of how this fits that broader context, so that it really is integrated from the beginning and not an afterthought later on.

And with that I'll turn it back to you.



Thomas E. Lollini, FAIA, is the Director of Physical and Environmental Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. He is presently responsible for long range and current planning for the UC Berkeley campus. He holds a Master of Architecture and B. S. in Architecture degrees from the University of Michigan College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Current major planning projects at Berkeley include a joint City/University Southside Area Plan, redevelopment of campus properties in the cities of Albany, and the development of a strategic facility renewal plan for the Berkeley campus. Before becoming UC Berkeley’s planning director in 1996, he spent five years managing capital projects for the campus.

He has served on numerous civic and professional boards and committees, including the Regional and Urban Design Committee of the AIA, and authored several articles and research papers on urban design and planning policy focused on sustainable development and civic reinvestment.

 

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