Expand your horizons

08 Feb 2010

Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design completes expansion and transformation of campus student centre

Completed in 1989, the Price Center Student Union on the UC San Diego campus provided a destination ‘center’ for the north end of the sprawling campus. As student traffic and buildings around the original structure increased, the Price Center became incapable of adequately serving its community. In 2003, the students passed a referendum to significantly expand the union and create a new center better connected to the evolving urban fabric of the campus.

The Expansion Site is on a sloping grade and delimited by major circulatory arteries of the increasingly dense campus. A shuttle drop-off at the north end of the site brings approximately 14,000 students per day to the area. To the south, a vehicular drop-off loop will be transformed into a town square for the campus. The ultimate goal of the new structure will be to work with the existing open space and planned future development to create an urban center with diverse spatial experiences.

The 140,000 sq ft expansion / addition to the existing Price Center at the University of California at San Diego seeks to accommodate the growing needs of the urbanising campus for dedicated student activities space and a thriving retail environment. As the campus hub, the sloping site is surrounded by major campus circulatory arteries. A historic nature preserve of eucalyptus trees frames the north and west skyline. To the south, a vehicular drop-off loop will be transformed into a ‘town square’ for the campus. The program for the expansion includes additional retail and food venues, a conference center, two ballrooms, meeting and event spaces, lounge and study spaces, and administrative offices for various campus institutions and student organisations.

In addition to additional program, the new building will create a unified ‘center’ for the UCSD campus. The expansion works to extrovert both the old structure, currently organised around an introverted central courtyard, and new via architectural strategies at the perimeter of the building that encourage a dynamic urban street life. This extroversion will generate a diverse range of spatial experiences for social expression, study, and rest.The design advances the building’s overall goals by examining elements of contortion, porosity, and transparency. The building mass warps to enhance the local urban condition and accommodate pedestrian movement patterns. Openings in surfaces and massing strategy allow the building to act as a pedestrian ‘hub’ for cross-site connections at multiple levels. Visual connections through the building provide exposure for various organisations within a 'public and open urban space'.

The diversification of circulation and a dense program offered multiple options for form, massing, and composition. A series of schemes were developed and selectively cross-bred to exploit the variety of urban, programmatic, and functional opportunities.

The building interior yields an environment of overlapping spatial trajectories informed by movement through the site and compression by urban forces. Opportune view windows take advantage of the contextual narrative and differentiate the components of the building mass. A variety of permeable and translucent materials, skylights, and curtain walls maintain the intended openness of the space and provide natural light into areas for dining, study, and social gathering.

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