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Spring 1999

Gene Hunter
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linked with a landscaped courtyard and flanked by steps and a ramp. However, funding was available only for the first--the MacDonald Medical Research Laboratories. Now the two conduct a lively dialogue across the intervening space, with its raised planters doubling as benches for alfresco lunches.

The architects have created a splendid street facade, with flat stone arches and variegated brickwork evoking the Romanesque masonry of Royce Hall and the Powell Library, looking across the boulevard to the Chiller/Cogeneration Plant, another functional building with a decorative skin. Purists may object to this fancy dress (Robert Venturi describes such work as "painted sheds"), but it fulfills the goal set by campus architect Duke Oakley to restore to UCLA a sense of consistency and urbanity that was lost during the earlier eras of expansion. Gonda is an important building block that strengthens the north-south axis, helps define the street line, and puts a fresh spin on a rich architectural tradition.

The sense of invention doesn't stop at the front door. Most of the interior is occupied by light-filled modular laboratories and service areas, which were designed by Lee, Burkhart, Liu architects of Los Angeles. But Venturi Scott Brown have drawn on their expertise in this specialized field to create a lounge area on each floor behind the folded steel and glass windows on the south side of the building. Upholstered benches follow a zig-zag course below the sun baffles, offering spectacular views over Westwood and a place where researchers from different fields can meet informally and use the inner wall as a chalk-board.

Another bonus for occupants is the contemporary art, selected and installed by consultant Merry Norris in the reception area and in each elevator lobby. Inside, as out, art and science achieve a harmonious balance in the Gonda Center.

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