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

Questions and Answers

Carol Tomlinson-Keasey (Moderator), Christopher Adams, Judy Chess, Brian Boxer, Harrison Fraker, Trudis Heinecke, Thomas E. Lollini, and Dorothy A. Walker


CHANCELLOR TOMLINSON-KEASEY: If I am able to follow all of the advice of this panel and of this day, you will have saved me and UC Merced from making dozens and dozens of errors. I'm still sure we'll have our fair share. But, many good thoughts here. So thank you very much. And join me in thanking them one more time.

I'd like to thank the audience and invite you to continue the dialogue, especially about planning the next campus. We are heavy into it right now, so there's plenty of time to take input and pour it into the plans, and mull it over, and maybe make things more sensible, more efficient, more environmentally relevant, etc. So don't be shy. We're in the mode when we would love to have your ideas. Two years from now if you come to us with a great idea we'll say, 'Oh, no! It's too late!' So let's continue the dialogue. And thank you very much for your attendance today, and for thinking with us about the new campus and the reinventing of Berkeley. John.

JOHN DOUGLASS: Can we have a few questions? Are there any out there?

AUDIENCE: Could you tell me exactly what you're going to do with the [inaudible]?

PANEL MEMBER: We don't know yet, we're still doing the research on it.

CHANCELLOR TOMLINSON-KEASEY: I think there's a combination of mitigation, preservation, and perhaps even restoration that will end up being part of the plan. We are in our initial thoughts able to preserve a significant area of the campus site, and three of those have been identified as wetlands that we would like to preserve. We still have to build a road through part of a wetland area to get to the campus. So those areas we'll have to mitigate or restore in some fashion.

AUDIENCE: I want to pick up a point in Judy Chess's presentation because I think it applies to the planning process of both these institutions. You talked about having an institutional plan and an academic plan. Since this is an academic institution, what's the difference between an institutional plan and an academic plan? Surely, there should be only one because the function of this institution is academic.

CHESS: You are picking up on some nomenclature issues we've had with our consultants. And I think that the mission of the University and the mission of the campus, everything is in support of the mission, but the idea that there are some ancillary functions that occur, they're attempting to define something in a broader sense. So it's not about the mission, but it's about how we do business in the support of that as well.

AUDIENCE: With due respect, I think the problem is going to be more than just nomenclature because it's very easy for people to forget that the academic well-being of the University should always be the first priority, and the other things are all developed, including good relationships with the community, it all has to do with the academic well-being of the University. And as the institutions get larger, it becomes harder and harder, actually, to retain that as the central focus.

If I could just talk for another 30 seconds because in most of what we've heard today, we haven't talked specifically about size of institutions. My personal view is that that's a crucial element, and that a lot of the problems which Berkeley sees, a lot of the problems with UCLA has, and so forth really stem from the fact that those institutions have been allowed to grow beyond a manageable size. And that needs to be a part of the planning process as well.

STEFANOS POLYZOIDES: A couple of comments, one on Berkeley, and one on Merced. For all the extraordinary care in discussing issues of vernal pools and stepping on the actual pure state on this wonderful existing landscape, I would like to pick up on something that Tom Lollini talked about, and that is, that possibly the most important environmental issue in the design of this campus is not on the 14,000 acres itself because that is a portion of this campus that can be controlled by the University in one form or another. If Goleta, UCSD and the area around it in San Diego, and Irvine are any indication, the severe environmental issue is the sprawl that follows institutions of this kind. And essentially, the space between the existing city and the campus, particularly, of the two intersections of 99. I think that if the University does not engage itself in original planning process, that is as passionate and engaged as saving vernal pools, I think it will save itself and destroy its surroundings.

On the Berkeley plan, only one comment, and a friendly one. That is, that it seems to me that the methodology of magic markers and arrows is a 20th century methodology which I think most [inaudible]. Computers offers one tremendous advantage, and that's the advantage of telescoping. I'm talking about the specifics of architectural and urbanist practice. You can shift scales very rapidly, and you can vision very rapidly. And it seems to me, hopefully, you have two-thirds of the process to go, but one of the most important aspects of gathering this campus in any form that lives up to its history is to actually vision it, physically, to understand it profoundly, and to guide it flexibly, but to do so by visioning. The work 'vision' implies seeing, implies describing in physical terms and seeing for the makers, for the sponsors, for the community.

DEAN FRAKER: I think the premise that I have so little time, I couldn't agree with you more about the Merced campus challenge. That challenge really is what's going to happen between that big chunk of land and everything else around it. And that's why I think the idea of having this be a model new community design challenge is what I was implying by that. That I also think that when you look at the site itself and some of the implications of the vernal pools, that one of the strategies will be to try to start the campus in a compact and dense enough way that is quite unusual in the way American towns have begun and urbanization has taken place over time. And that is going to challenge the development community to figure out how to do that well. We can't build a small suburban town out there and still feel like we're being responsible, not only to the laws, but to the new standards that Trudy is talking about. And I think it's a very exciting but daunting challenge to figure out how to do that, and also to figure out how to control what happens around the property.

AUDIENCE: I haven't been here for the whole thing, but I have to point that what I did hear, I didn't hear a single mention of the experience at Santa Cruz. Is that because it's all negative or is it similar to the…[inaudible]

ADAMS: Well, I think that my own experience at Santa Cruz as a Planner with the Office of the President is that it doesn't relate effectively with its host community and that the boundary of the campus has unfortunately been developed with a single family fairly upscale housing which doesn't serve the campus. And I think that our thoughts so far have been very much in line of what Dorothy Walker was articulating, that the boundary between the campus and the community, at least part of the boundary, should be very permeable and there should be a lot of concentration of activity, a town center, if you will, a Claremont or a Chico, if you will, that will be right outside the borders, rather than the more distant qualities which you find in Santa Cruz. There are historical reasons why Santa Cruz is the way it is, and it's beautiful, but I think that it lacks some qualities which we are trying to create.

HEINECKE: Let me also respond to that as well. I think the very strong framework of residential colleges led to really dispersion of facilities on the campus, so it is not the kind of compact development that we're talking about, and there the academic concept very much did influence the way it was built out.

AUDIENCE: I'm going to make this very quickly. We heard about town and gown but I didn't hear any commentary with regards to the vision to the high school. And I put that in context that there was an era when there was a rapport between the Berkeley campus and the Berkeley High School, that (a) its standards were very high because, after all, so were the standards at the University; and the college rapport was such that Berkeley High School students could go to anywhere to any college in the nation because of the reputation of the high school, but also it was for so many people, there was no question, of what's going to happen when they graduate, where do you go to college, they're going to up the street to Cal. Put that in the thinking of the gown and gown [inaudible]. Are you aware of something called the tombstone geology and the lichens that are attached to that [inaudible]. And don't get blind-sided on that because you've got your eyes on your vernal pools.

AUDIENCE: I wonder if Dorothy could answer the Chancellor's question at the beginning. In your research back in the early Berkeley program, can you guess what are our blind spots? This is a terribly important question. Being a practitioner, I'm the living embodiment of the blind spot. So what the blind spots are in present thinking, what is your guess? And, obviously, it's going to be a guess. I mean, there were wonderful things about the Beaux Arts planning, the relationship, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But they were all caught into a liturgy of how to interpret that. So do you see as we all rush around doing campuses and trying to be reasonably good people and all the rest of that, sort of just blind spots?

WALKER: Well, it's a wonderful challenge and I wish I could, and it's the end of the day, but let me just say maybe two things. I think enough people today have said something about that it's a void, it's the open space that defines the quality of the space because the architecture is going to vary over time, that our building needs are going to vary over time. I don't see that people are blind to that. I think the real question is can we override the ego problem of the designers to retain that? And we have repeatedly lost that on the Berkeley campus. So I think that is the fundamental battle, and how do we educate the decision-makers that are making decisions now, particularly in a public institution where there's some public money involved, how do we get them to understand that bigger picture that the funding may be as important for the void as it is for the building, or that a building that should be taken away? We have one design by Sonny Liston with his gloves on, you may remember-you're not old enough to know that, sorry. So there are a number of things that we need to fix. I think, you know, those are really important.

Maybe the second thing that we're blind to, and it relates to what the new campus should be achieving, and something that always seemed to be important to me, but I'm not sure that I ever knew quite how to articulate it, that so many of the children that come to the University to become adults here--and we are taking children and making them adults--are the children of suburbia. And our challenge is to teach the children of suburbia to live an urban life because we cannot afford suburbia anymore. And if the University cannot create the model for urban life, where will people learn it, where will they understand it? So I think that is the biggest challenge to us. And I don't think we're blind to it, I think we need to think about it and let it permeate every aspect of what we're doing. How are we designing our student housing? What's our transportation system like? What are our expectations about how people arrive there? What kind of collegiality do we expect and what happens in our public open spaces? Don't we expect our faculty to talk to each other and not hide out because that's part of urban life? I'm not sure what the answers are, but that would be the guideline I would use.

AUDIENCE: [inaudible] people in the central valley…

HEINECKE: Well, yeah, we've had a series of all-day Saturday planning fairs that have been very interactive in terms of getting responses to general images, having people actually do design exercises, how the campus and town center should interact, different surveys. I think Chris showed some of the children's work that was actually done as a part of an outreach program. And the most interesting thing about that, just learning about what people expect, in every single--these were fourth graders--in every single drawing that they made, they had water in it--they had a fountain, they had a pool, they had something. You know, it took us awhile when we had them up on the board to look at them, and then all of a sudden we realized that. And so that's become a part of our thinking, just in terms of recycled water use and so on, how can we provide some water on the site as an amenity.

DOUGLASS: Okay, we're going to call it a day. I want to thank you very much for coming out here and coming to the panel. I want to especially thank the panelists and participants, and just to remind you that this will live on in various forms on the video and on the website in the new modern age. So thanks again for coming.


 

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