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Brenda's Journey

University Communications

External Affairs
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Summer 1997
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Every new structure adds to the load of Jack Powazek and his team of 700 versatile service personnel, who currently maintain 17 million square feet of buildings and parking structures, eight miles of high-pressure steam lines, 85,000 doors and 65,000 irrigation heads. Tree trimming and trash collection are contracted out, but virtually everything else is done in-house, from changing a lightbulb to remodeling a laboratory. Powazek is proud of his success in slashing water consumption, from a billion to 750,000 gallons a year. He boasts that the new Chiller/Cogeneration Plant assures the campus of low-cost power, hot water and efficient cooling; the DWP serves only as backup.

Forging a consensus and seeing that the campus continues to grow in the right direction requires strong leadership. Many credit Peter Blackman, administrative vice chancellor, with playing that role best. "I spend a lot of time walking around the campus in the early morning and noticing for myself what needs to be done," Blackman remarks. "I'm constantly reminded of what a vital and evolving place this is, and that strengthens my motivation to enhance it. We're trying to create the kind of environment where people can teach and study to their best advantage."

To achieve this, Blackman seeks multiple benefits from every expenditure. When old buildings are seismically reinforced, they are also upgraded with computer connections and air conditioning to extend their useful lives. New construction, like the Anderson School, can serve academic needs and improve pedestrian access. Always, there's a vision of a place that is more than the sum of its parts.

"A lot of the big development moves have already been made," says Duke Oakley. "Ten years from now, these substantive improvements will have contributed to an even stronger spirit of place. We are one step ahead of L.A. in moving from a suburban to an urban paradigm. I hope UCLA students will carry away with them the message that a community can be both dense and beautiful. That idea could make a big difference."

Michael Webb is the author of nine books on architecture and design.


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