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Winter 1999

All the World's a Stage
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The design of the outdoor theater, to be situated at the corner of the grassy dance area opposite the pool, is still in flux. But one of Yudell's inspirations is a Balinese pavilion that Mitoma -- an Indonesian dance expert -- recognized at an early showing as the structure located adjacent to her daughter's house in Bali. Regarding this new al fresco theater Yudell, explains, "From the beginning we've wanted to find a balance between near total openness, in the tradition of the Balinese pavilion, or a courtyard in a village, while at the same time recognizing that we're in a dense campus context. We're trying to walk a fine line."

Perhaps the most exciting design element thus far is Yudell's superimposition of a mandala pattern over the peristyle of columns remaining from what was once the extensive ground-floor locker room of the Women's Gym. Taking the "world" moniker of the department very seriously, Yudell considered at one time building walls that would have resembled Japanese screens.

Ultimately, the option that proved most pleasing from both aesthetic and practical standpoints involved configuring the ground floor as a series of squares layered upon circles, accommodating a curving boulevard that sweeps through the middle of the building. This classic mandala pattern is significant in that it quotes a genre of visual art associated with Tibet, an endangered world culture. But the design also made it possible for Yudell to lay out a series of byways that encourage relaxed connection, deftly capturing the ethos of WAC.

"One of the wonderful things about working with a historic building," Yudell observes, "is that flexibility needn't mean blandness or complete neutrality. You can be in a building that makes a strong statement and still change it. And this is a case of one of the oldest buildings on campus being used for one of the most experimental programs."

Now perhaps WAC will finally have a building capable of supporting the bustling activity within it. And the prospective students, when they come, will want to stay.

Senior Development Writer Lisa Waring contributed to this article.

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