Into the North
Two massive building projects, the largest in UC Riverside history, guide the school into a new era
By John Warren
UC Riverside has launched its most ambitious building effort ever, and its developers and designers know where to find the start line: the original, 1950s-era campus.
After years of incubation, the first leg of an aggressive expansion began in earnest this fall with the selection of a developer, American Campus Communities of Austin, Texas. The expansion comprises two large-scale projects, the Dundee Residence Hall and Glasgow Dining Project, and the North District Development Project.
When the last phase of development is done, there will be 4,000–6,000 new beds on campus, along with new dining facilities and a mixed-use district that will redefine students’ — and the community’s — relationship with UCR. At more than 1 million square feet in building space, the concurrent projects are the largest building effort in UCR history, campus planners said.
“The projects should reflect how the campus envisions itself for the next 50 years,” campus architect Jacqueline Norman said. “It’s our bridge to the future.”
The result should feel familiar. Planners have a template from which to summon inspiration, drawn more than 60 years ago.
UCR’s campus was built in the 1950s as “an oasis in the desert.” It was designed to at once embrace its desert environment, and to deflect it.
Its buildings were clustered around an irrigated green mall in which the sun was turned back at every window by vertical concrete and metal fins, and under sun-dappled porticos and shaded “arcades,” or walkways.
“It responds to the desert climate,” said Tim Stevens, a principal with planning firm SCB, a partner in American Campus Communities, about the campus. “UCR has a sense of place that’s very much related to its immediate environment.”
The university is now in an unprecedented period of growth, with 38 percent more students today than 10 years ago. Its fall 2017 enrollment of 23,278 is expected to grow to 27,000 by 2024.
It is symbolic that the first project, Dundee-Glasgow, will reclaim a parking lot. The notion that college is defined by strolling under a treed canopy, and not fast-stepping through a hot asphalt parking lot, is one that has gained momentum among campus planners.
“We are pushing the automobile further to the perimeter of campus,” Stevens said of the two projects. “We are really going back to the classic walking environments with quadrangles and courtyards, and pedestrian malls.”
Andy Plumley, assistant vice chancellor of Auxiliary Services, said Dundee is a throwback to the two original residence halls on campus, Aberdeen-Inverness, built in 1959, and Lothian/West Lothian, built in 1963. The hallways will have rooms on both sides, with double rooms that share restrooms.
“The past is part of the whole, and we want these two projects to be very forward-looking; designing UCR’s future, while establishing a new national precedent of how student housing is integrated into the fabric of a college or university campus.” — Raoul Amescua, UCR’s executive director of Real Estate Services and Asset Management
“The style has come back in favor, as they are more conducive to forming communities and keeping costs low,” Plumley said.
Dundee-Glasgow will see the 300 parking spaces of Lot 22 supplanted by three buildings that include 760 residence hall beds for first-year students, and an 830-seat, two-story dining hall. Construction is set to begin around December 2018, with completion targeted for fall 2020.
On the heels of Dundee-Glasgow is the North District, which involves razing the 50-acre site where the shuttered Campus Crest Family Housing Complex sits. The area, bounded by Linden Street, Canyon Crest Drive, and Blaine Street, will eventually provide thousands of new student beds for undergraduate and graduate students. The project also includes new dining facilities. The first phase of construction will start in 2019, and is set to open in fall 2021, with about 1,500 new beds.
The North District will include traditional campus features such as a pedestrian mall, green space, and various forms of sun shading. It’s also a recognition of what planners call “The Starbucks Phenomenon.”
That is, students have abandoned study rooms in the recesses of the campus library, preferring to cluster in packed cafes cordoned not by walls, but ear plugs.
The ground floor of the seven-story Dundee residence hall buildings will provide multi-use space that can be used for small and large academic seminars during the day and for student study and meetings by night. Also featured will be residential spaces of living rooms, shared kitchens, laundry rooms, and a residential service office.
American Campus Communities’ proposed plan also calls for two intramural fields, a regulation athletic field and field house, and new, distinctive campus gateways at Blaine Street and Canyon Crest Drive, and at Linden Street and Canyon Crest.
The Dundee-Glasgow project will cost about $150 million, and the North District will cost about $300 million. The projects will be financed through tax-exempt bonds, with a not-for-profit organization acting as borrower and owner, leasing land from UCR. The paradigm means interest on the bonds is exempt from federal income taxes and local property taxes.
Raoul Amescua, UCR’s executive director of Real Estate Services and Asset Management, said Dundee- Glasgow and the North District will “honor the design principles of the original campus, but not mimic it.”
“The past is part of the whole, and we want these two projects to be very forward-looking; designing UCR’s future, while establishing a new national precedent of how student housing is integrated into the fabric of a college or university campus,” he said.