Sciences and Humanities Building
University of California, Davis, California
The Social Sciences and Humanities Building
at the University of California, Davis, is the culmination of an intensive
effort to blend the issues of programmatic requirements, large urban patterns,
and the spirit of the site.
The building forms of the facility suggest the geological forces that
created the great Central Valley of California. The building has the environment
of a crossroads, which celebrates intellectual exchange and cultural vitality
through a series of exterior courtyards cutting into the valley floor
along a serpentine path. This path, bisecting the site, links the Memorial
Union with the campus gateway at Third and A Streets. Exposed along this
path are a number of departmental access points and academic offices,
as well as the students’ entrance to the dean’s office, seminar
rooms and the lecture hall.
The second strata rises above the valley floor. It is fragmented by lines
perpendicular to tangents along the serpentine path. These forms further
define the courtyards below and create a pattern reminiscent of the deformation
of the Valley’s agricultural grid by natural waterways. Village-like,
these one and two-storeyed structures house the remainder of departmental
entries, academic offices and a secondary entrance to the dean’s
office. The decentralized arrangement creates peninsular open spaces,
which allow secondary and tertiary entry points to the sunken courtyards.
The upper strata of the project, rising from the site in two linear metallic
banks bridging the courtyards below, contains academic offices, departmental
libraries, conference rooms and research areas. Suggesting the subductive
forces that formed the Sierra Nevada and Coast Range, these forms erupt
from the site at key intersections, taking advantage of views, natural
light and the cooling Sacramento Delta breezes.