Physical Planning on the Campus of the University of California, Santa Cruz

Aaron Priven
Student Union Assembly Intern
Fall 1992

"Here at Santa Cruz, then, is a great opportunity -- a true challenge. The idea of the small college related to the great contemporary University; the aggregation of colleges, schools, and academic centers that might be adapted to the near wilderness site; the opportunity for a contiguous environment to grow with the University campus: these concepts, together, form the challenge."
-- the 1963 Long Range Development Plan1

In March, 1961, the Regents of the University of California established the Santa Cruz campus on the Cowell Ranch site, and in July of that year appointed Dean McHenry as the founding chancellor. These two actions set the stage for thirty years of physical planning and development at UCSC. The choice of the Cowell Ranch site over alternative sites in Alameda or Santa Clara Counties2 established the topography of the new South/Central Coast campus: cut by canyons, hilly, and largely forested. The choice of Dean McHenry as chancellor established that Santa Cruz would have a leader who would accept the challenge, who would acknowledge that "the architectural character of this campus is overwhelmingly important in effecting our goals" and that "The magnificent site at Santa Cruz is an undeniable aid to achieving" those academic goals.

From the first, academic goals have been what has shaped the physical goals of the campus. "It is the purpose of the Long Range Development Plan to translate the Academic Plan into terms of physical reality."3 Although not all of the built environment at UCSC is specifically derived from the academic goals, the academic goals are the starting-point for determining physical planning at UCSC. One simply cannot examine physical plans without reference to academic plans. This usually holds true at all levels, from whole campus plans to plans for individual buildings.

Traditionally, there have been two levels of planning at UCSC: the greater level, for the whole campus, and the lesser level, programming each individual building or complex.4 In turn, these are broken up into academic and physical planning stages. On the lesser level, each building or complex has a justification for its construction, and then the construction must be planned. In terms of the organizational structure of the university, there are programming committees, which justify the new building, and building committees, which supervise the physical planning of the new buildings. On the greater level, there are master academic plans for the university, and master physical plans. These are known as Long Range Development Plans. The most recent planning development at UCSC is the introduction of an intermediate planning stage. This has taken shape in the 2005 Report and the Long Range Development Plan Implementation Program, still in progress.5

The first academic plan for UCSC was A Provisional Academic Plan, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1965-1975. This document was produced in 1962 by McHenry and other early UCSC staff members and established the basic plan of UCSC: a residential college system with some centralized facilities. The physical plan, the 1963 Long Range Development Plan, took this and created the basic physical layout we know today: a core of physically central (and organizationally centralized) facilities surrounded by two bands (eastern and western) of residential colleges (and professional schools).6

Many of the early goals of the campus were not carried out, stymied by the dramatic slowdown in enrollment in the mid- seventies. The campus was planned originally for fifteen to twenty colleges and a number of professional schools with a total student enrollment of 27,500 by 1990.7 But the 1963 plans remain important. Even now most of the buildings at UCSC were constructed under the 1963 LRDP or under its immediate successor (the 1971 LRDP), which contained little dramatic change.8 This vision of the landscape persists in what it left behind. The placement of the colleges, the core, athletic facilities and roadways, all these were established in 1963. New visions have had to be constructed on the foundations of the old.

Further formal planning had little effect on the campus until the mid-eighties. The 1971 LRDP was different from its predecessor only in that it took advantage of eight years' experience; its basic thrust, its goals, were the same. The only major change it made was to increase density; the size of the colleges was increased from the 400-600 students to 600-1000 range. The colleges were not actually increased during this period, but it set a precedent for later years.9

On the other hand, the 1978 LRDP was very different than its predecessors. Coming after the great decrease in expected enrollment, the 1978 LRDP planned for only 7,500 students in 1985, and naturally little construction was needed to accommodate this small amount of growth from the 1976 level of 6000. (In fact, the actual enrollment had decreased by approximately 300 between 1976 and 1978.) Between 1978 and 1985, only the Housing Services Building and the Hagar Court apartments for faculty and staff were completed.10

Enrollment begain rising sharply again in 1985 after U.C. President David Gardner began a growth program. In fall 1986, enrollment rose unexpectedly by 900 students (caused chiefly by a changing admissions system),11 to a total of 7,700.12 This was without a corresponding increase in physical construction. Thus, the campus was crowded far beyond its capabilities. Growth began rapidly.

This period is almost a planless one in UCSC's history. The Campus Planning Committee that had guided construction in the early years had since disbanded for lack of use.13 Although the 1978 LRDP had designated several sites for future building, other sites were often chosen. The Graduate Student Apartments and apartments at Crown-Merrill and Kresge East were not built on designated sites; the Graduate Apartment and Kresge East sites were actually designated "natural reserve."14 Many of the other construction projects were additions to colleges, rather than as new colleges. By now all the original seven colleges have had faculty office additions and all but Porter, Cowell, and Stevenson have had housing additions.

An example of construction in the planless period is College Eight. Wendell Brase (Vice Chancellor of Finance, Planning, and Administration) and Chancellor Sinsheimer made the decision to site College Eight on their own,15 and established that it would house over 600 students. This was in accord with no campus plan. The 1978 LRDP shows this area with no further growth. Sinsheimer and Brase wished to pull Oakes College closer to the college arc; however, Oakes students and faculty were not consulted. The original Oakes building committee had felt that their location, away from the rest of campus, was beneficial. 16

However, this period was expected to end when in 1986 Chancellor Sinsheimer convened a committee to create a new Long Range Development Plan. The committee's draft plan came out in February 1987 and contained numerous details about how the campus should grow. Guidelines about architectural forms, pedestrian and bicycle circulation, outdoor spaces, and proper siting were all present.17 In July 1987 the plan was approved by Chancellor Sinsheimer. However, in March 1988 Chancellor Stevens made several changes to the plan, including a notable one not recommended by the LRDP committee: Inclusion Area E was added south of the West Remote Parking Lot. In May 1988, the plan was sent to the Office of the President for Regental approval. However, the plan was cut back severely, because it was not focused "on those elements that are appropriate for Regental action." Many of the important details were omitted from the LRDP.18 Instead of a master planning document, the LRDP became little more than a land use plan.

In 1990, reflecting the changing budgetary constraints of the University, the Academic Senate began once again to rewrite its academic plan for the campus. However, the 2005 Report was not intended to be a complete rethinking of the Twenty-Year Plan.19 Instead, it intended to clarify the means by which the campus would achieve the goals in the Twenty-Year Plan. This middle level of academic development was soon followed by a middle- level physical plan. Although the Long Range Development Plan Implementation Program is, like the 2005 Report, a middle level of planning, it does not follow precisely from the 2005 Report. Instead, it attempts to provide

"the set of principles, guidelines, and mechanisms needed to guide decisions as individual projects are sited, designed, landscaped and connected to the campus fabric."20
Of course, this is precisely the kind of material that was taken out of the 1987 draft LRDP by the Office of the President. Some of the removed material is back; most of the LRDP Implementation Program, however, is new.

The LRDP Implementation Program is the most important planning process that is now occuring at UCSC. Therefore, I wish to examine it in some detail. I should first like to point out the difference between the Implementation Program and the Implementation Program Report; the one is the committee and process of planning, the other is the written results. At this point the latest written version is the Phase I LRDP Implementation Program Report (November 19, 1992). It is this that I will examine.

At its heart, the Implementation Program is just that: a way of translating the land-use designations in the 1989 LRDP into prospective building sites. In a way, campus planning has come full circle; the "Proposed Infill" map in the Implementation Program Report, showing new building sites, is similar to the original 1963 LRDP map. The difference is that the Implementation Program is a different (lower) level of planning.

As a whole, I feel the Implementation Program is beneficial for the campus. It provides a level of planning that has been removed from the LRDP. Current buildings on campus have serious circulation problems (for example, the walk between College Eight and Performing Arts), there is architectural discontinuity (the different styles of the adjacent Performing Arts, Baskin Arts, and the Student Center, or the original East Field House and the 1988 addition), and the LRDP does an inadequate job of planning building sites so that the whole comes together (instead of piece by piece). Although there are portions I strongly disagree with (such as the continuing provision of close-in parking in the core), the process and the level of planning is important to achieve. Perhaps we can change our present situation: "The distant and sometimes weak connections between elements has sometimes made the campus like '100 sites in search of a plan,' as one member of the Campus Physical Planning Committee put it."21

Without doing a complete survey of the entire Implementation Program Report, I want to highlight some aspects of it that I feel are important to explore.

One of the most important aspects of the Implementation Program is the attention that is being paid to sections of the core. There will be four "area studies" in the final document: the West, East, and South Cores, and also the South Entry area. (To avoid the idea of "ghettoization" of functions and divisions, the names Science Hill and Community Access Area [now the South Core] have been dropped from the document.)

For the first time, except for a 1985 study of Science Hill, parts of the campus will be treated as units. One of the six basic principles of the Implementation program states:

"Future building, both in colleges and in the core, should be in clustered groupings, providing social and public spaces within their interiors."22
This isn't so much a sharp break from the past as the construction of facilities long delayed. Building names such as the Classroom Unit 1 and Social Sciences Unit 1 (now Kerr Hall) had always implied companion structures to be built later. But now those structures are being planned.

The importance of this is that for the first time, important outdoor spaces will be created to rival the colleges. Only with the very recent addition of the Science Library has there been anything like a college courtyard anywhere within the campus core. Several additional courtyards are expected to be created: a row of them along a pedestrian walk in Science Hill, one between Performing and Baskin Arts, one south of the Classroom Unit, and perhaps a larger plaza on the site of the Bookstore parking lot.

All of these plazas will rival the colleges as places of attraction. With the increasing weakness of the academic character of the colleges, it will not be surprising if the academic core begins to attract activity away from the colleges; at least the more distant ones such as Merrill or Oakes. What this will mean for the college system isn't clear at this time. Moreover, the alternative is a continuation of freestanding buildings, ill related to each other. Nonetheless, its effects need to be considered.

Another trend the Implementation Program would continue is the increase in college size. It isn't clear at this stage which colleges would have further additions, but it seems likely that all will have some new facilities. The original college size of 600 students, a third of which would be in residence, has changed both in the Implementation Program and in the 1989 LRDP to a 1000-student college, 70% of whom live in residence. (Of course, the 70% goal has been difficult to reach.) Colleges Nine and Ten are planned for 750 bedspaces each. It is difficult to imagine these large colleges functioning as communities. College Eight with 650 bedspaces has not been very successful.

Physical planning at UCSC has been haphazard in the past. I believe the Implementation Program will help lessen this and bring the campus together. But there is no guarantee. David Wolf in his thesis details the deterioration of U.C. Berkeley from "among the most majestic sites for a university anywhere in the world" to a mishmash of office buildings and neoclassical structures.23

Although Berkeley's physical fate is likely not our own, we are by no means free of administrators without a clear idea of proper physical planning. College Eight stands as an ominous monument to this fact. It is up to the students and faculty to ensure that Santa Cruz lives up to its ideal.


1. Warnecke and Assoc., p. 12.

2. Paull, pp. 11-12.

3. Warnecke and Assoc., p. 11.

4. Graham Bice, UCSC senior planner, remarks to the Long Range Development Plan Implementation Committee, October 8, 1992.

5. Bice, remarks on October 8, 1992.

6. Warnecke and Assoc., pp. 21-25.

7. Warnecke and Assoc., pp. 21-25.

8. Wolf, p. 71.

9. Wolf, p. 70.

10. Wolf, pp. 78-79.

11. Wolf, p. 82.

12. "UC Santa Cruz: At a Glance."

13. Paull, p. 21.

14. LRDP, 1978, p. 15.

15. Robert Adams, remarks to the Long Range Development Plan Implementation Committee, November 19, 1992.

16. Wolf, p. 90.

17. Draft LRDP, February 1987.

18. Long Range Development Plan, 1992, p. 8.

19. 2005 Report.

20. Bender, et al., Sept. 1992, p. 3.

21. Wolf, p. 84.

22. Bender, et al., Nov. 19, 1992, p. 12.

23. Wolf, pp. 6-18.


Bender, Richard, et al. Long Range Development Plan Implementation Program Report, Phase I. September, 1992.

Bender, Richard, et al. Long Range Development Plan Implementation Program Report, Phase I. Revised, November 19, 1992.

Paull, Robert. Land Use Planning at UCSC. Unpublished senior thesis, University of California, Santa Cruz. 1986.

University of California, Santa Cruz, Long Range Development Plan. 1978.

University of California, Santa Cruz, Long Range Development Plan. 1987 Draft.

University of California, Santa Cruz, Long Range Development Plan. 1989. Revised September 1992.

University of California, Santa Cruz, Academic Senate. 2005 Report. February, 1992.

University of California, Santa Cruz, Public Information Office. "UC Santa Cruz: At a Glance." n.d.

Warnecke and Associates, et al. University of California, Santa Cruz, Long Range Development Plan. 1963.

Wolf, David. Gentle Be the Hand that Lays Upon the Land. Unpublished senior thesis, University of California, Santa Cruz. January 1990.