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“Designing UCI” Celebrates Forty Years of Innovation

Spencer C. Olin, Professor Emeritus of History, Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professor

It has been my privilege to work with staff of the UCI Libraries to preserve our campus’s history while serving as Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professor over the past two years.  Our efforts have culminated in planning the signature event of UCI’s 40th anniversary celebration: Designing UCI, A Symposium Celebrating Forty Years of Innovation.  Sponsored by the Libraries and held at The Barclay Theatre on November 3rd, the symposium highlighted three essential components of the founding and subsequent development of our campus: physical planning, academic planning, and architectural evolution. 

Each of these topics revealed ways in which the Irvine campus has been an innovative leader in higher education since the 1960s.  Raymond Watson, former president of The Irvine Company, focused on the planning and architectural contributions of William Pereira and the building of a university-centered city in Irvine.  James McGaugh, UCI’s first executive vice chancellor and founding director of the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, analyzed the means by which UCI has developed academic excellence.  Rebekah Gladson discussed the campus’s architecture since the early 1990s, when she became UCI’s architect.  Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Michael Gottfredson concluded the program by reflecting on the speakers’ remarks and offering his projections for UCI’s future, including a strategy for academic development during the next decade.

The symposium was followed by a reception and the opening of an exhibit in Langson Library titled Under Construction Indefinitely: Forty Years of Designing UCI (see related article on page 5).  Attendees received an illustrated book (titled Designing UCI) containing three articles: “Designing UC Irvine” and “The Three Phases of UC Irvine’s Architectural History,” which I wrote, and “The Case for Contextualist Architecture” by Rebekah Gladson.  The book also contains the catalog of the exhibit, written by archivist Rachel Sandoval.

Taken together, the symposium and the exhibit highlight some of UC Irvine’s most impressive achievements of the past forty years.  It is my hope that these two events promote appreciation of the rich architectural history of our campus and stimulate discussion and debate about its built environment. 

Finally, on a personal note, it has been a great pleasure working with so many fine colleagues in the Libraries, including Jackie Dooley, Rachel Sandoval, Anne Mar, Julie Sully, and Sylvia Irving, in planning and implementing these projects and the other accomplishments of the UCI Historical Records Project.

For copies of Designing UCI or more information about the Historical Records Project, please contact Jackie Dooley, Head of Special Collections and Archives (jmdooley@uci.edu or x44935).



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