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Stained Glass Splendor on Campus


By Marina Dundjerski, Photos by Daniel Chavkin

Published Apr 1, 2012 8:00 AM


In Kerchoff: California and Kerckhoff's life

To see more stained glass from campus, visit the photo gallery.

When UCLA's architects set forth their vision of a campus on Westwood's rolling hills reminiscent of Italy's northern landscape, they took inspiration from the Lombard Romanesque, incorporating richness of ornamental detail. Colorful stained glass windows, evocative of the classic churches of Italy, are a particularly striking feature.

Completed in 1929, Royce Hall, with its iconic twin towers, was UCLA's first administration and classroom building. In its corner stairwells, architect David C. Allison placed 15-foot-high stained glass windows with vibrant representations of academic themes, including the arts, geological sciences, jurisprudence and chemistry. One image, depicting an owl, a gear and an anvil, represents wisdom through the advances of civilization. Another, with a male crew member and a shield with a bear, symbolizes athletic prowess.

In 1931, however, one building was intentionally designed to veer away from the campus's overall style. Kerckhoff Hall, UCLA's first student union, was built in a Tudor Gothic style to signify the importance of its unique role in university life. But stained glass also is a predominant feature of Kerckhoff.

The original cafeteria and students' store were adorned with stained-glass representations of medieval attendants serving tobacco and food. Homage to the Golden State can be found through the incorporation of California motifs—including a '49er panning for gold, the brown bear and the squirrel.

In what used to be Kerckhoff's women's lounge—now just the upstairs lounge—are stained glass seals of some of the world's most prestigious universities and women's colleges, including Cambridge and Mount Holyoke. Another little-known tidbit: Stained glass in a fourth-floor window includes images of a redwood tree and a dam, representing the life of the building's namesake, German-American lumber and hydroelectric power pioneer William G. Kerckhoff.