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Brenda's Journey
Utopia

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Summer 1997
Utopia
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To preserve the balance of buildings and open space, and to avoid the higher costs of building on difficult sites, it is likely that multistory buildings will replace several modest structures at the heart of the campus. Dickson Art Center, an earthquake-shaken high-rise, may eventually be replaced, in part because it is ill-suited to its purpose. Another, less radical approach has been to "laminate" existing buildings by wrapping new structures around the old to enhance their utility, save land and strengthen the urban texture of the campus.

A dramatic example of this is the newly completed addition to the Ackerman Union. Architect Rebecca Binder has created a muscular three-story structure that is faced in poured concrete panels, banded with red sandstone and topped with curved laminated wood beams that will serve as an ivy-clad pergola to shade the roof terrace. By pushing forward from the original structure, the addition gives better definition to Bruin Plaza; the roof terrace compensates for the ground lost to construction.

There is still a place for new stand-alone buildings. Of all the recent additions, the Anderson Graduate School of Management is the best example of how to reinterpret traditional forms. The architect picked for this demanding commission -- Harry Cobb, of Pei Cobb Freed and Partners -- has demonstrated his skill in design at a number of eastern schools, and succeeded here in creating a strong sense of place at the northern edge of the campus. To reduce the bulk of the building and give it the feel of an urban village, he has split it into five clustered elements. An axial path serves as a front drive, running north from the bottom of Janss Steps, then rising to a handsomely paved plaza which links The Anderson Graduate School of Management to Parking Lot 5. The shifts of axis and level within the building, the fine craftsmanship and detailing, and the handsome interior finishes set a new standard for campus buildings.

Best of all, the Anderson School complex reaches out to connect with its neighbors, making generous provision for greenery and decorative paths. Concrete paths are bordered with brick and inlaid with brick squares, picking up on the stylized version of the original paving in Dickson quad that was employed by Hodgetts and Fung for their Westwood Gateway plaza at the southern edge of campus. Patterns like these create a sense of continuity along Bruin Walk and a network of pedestrian ways that will eventually bind together every part of the campus.

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