The Dorm That Time Forgot
by Aaron Meshon
Sandy Siegel '72
foliage-covered exterior, the taxicabs lined up
waiting for fares and the bustling valets parking cars are familiar
sights to anyone who's cruised past Westwood's posh W Hotel. But
few know that this neighborhood landmark started as lodging of a
15-story structure at 930 Hilgard began its existence in 1969 as
a private dorm. Named La Mancha, the building was still under construction
when students arrived for Fall Quarter. Anxious students —
many of whom had been lured by promises of deluxe accommodations
and a new sense of community — unexpectedly found themselves
having to make alternate arrangements, such as commuting from home
or shuttling to campus from nearby motels.
the doors finally did open in mid-October, only nine floors were
available for occupancy as construction continued. Not everyone
minded the inconvenience, however.
Mancha was just a cool place to live in the late '60s," says
Julie Arntson Boyd, a sophomore that first year. "It was so
different from Sproul Hall, and all the differences, in my opinion,
or not, the dorm had trouble attracting residents — despite
the above-par cuisine and comfy singles, doubles and three-bedroom
suites with private or semi-private bathrooms — and resorted
to an ad campaign in the Daily Bruin extolling its virtues. One
student took offense. "Don't believe all that you read,"
wrote "Sancho Panza" in the May 29, 1970, Bruin.
"UCLA students should be advised that La Mancha is hardly a
'community of students'; indeed, students are much more isolated
there than at other dorms. And ... La Mancha is woefully overpriced
and suffers from management that is hardly amenable to student needs."
Evidently, management never got its act together. In 1974, the "impossible
dorm" stopped tilting at windmills and was transformed into
its first incarnation as a hotel. The students had left the building.