Neighborhoods and Nosh: A Look at What’s Coming to Campus
As UC San Diego continues its exciting campus transformation, the university’s commitment to providing on-campus housing to students can be seen across campus.
“UC San Diego invests in building accessible and below-market housing because we know how important and impactful it is for our students and the wider community,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “We continuously demonstrate our steadfast commitment to maximize access to student housing, help lighten local traffic, free up housing in a very tight market and enhance the experience of each of our valued students.”
This fall, UC San Diego—which ranks third in the nation for student housing inventory—will be able to provide on-campus housing to nearly 14,000 undergraduate students. With projects like the following, the university will continue to make progress toward a four-year undergraduate housing guarantee at below market rates for comparable units. Beyond beds, new projects bring space for a new undergraduate college, innovative green features, diverse dining, campus-inspired art and open space for all to enjoy.
Arts Abound in the Theatre District
The first building in Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood opened this fall, bringing the campus a new undergraduate college, Eighth College. This helps reduce the population of each college from 5,000 to approximately 4,000 students, ensuring that students continue to benefit from a world-class education in the smaller, more intimate environment offered by UC San Diego’s college system. This building includes space for the college’s inaugural provost, Angela Booker, general assignment classrooms and residences for incoming Eighth College students.
Nneze Akubuilo is a literature/writing major who will graduate this spring. She is thrilled to be a resident advisor and help form the traditions and customs of a brand-new space on campus. “This is such an opportunity to craft what we want our campus experience to look like this year and what we want Eighth College to be,” she said. “I’m excited to be part of the group that is piloting that for a whole new group of college students.”
Akubuilo shared that the resident advisors and the residence life team have created workgroups on different facets of Eighth College with a goal of forming long-standing traditions. "Hopefully, when I am old and gray and come back as an alumna, I can see something that I was part of starting," she laughed.
The resident advisors had the chance to meet with Provost Booker to learn more about the vision and mission of the new college, including the naming of each of the five buildings within Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood. Building five is named Podemos, which means “we can” in Spanish. “I had no idea how much time, effort, collaboration and integrity went into naming the buildings,” Akubuilo remarked. “It was so impressive how each detail is so minutely focused, based on community representation, group collaboration and forming bonds across different communities. I was so grateful to have insight into that process and it makes it even more interesting to live in this building.”
Another resident advisor, Milena Salazar, is in her first year of graduate school, studying structural engineering. “I earned my bachelor’s degree at UC San Diego, so being part of a completely new college is a full-circle moment for me, especially as a mentor,” she said. “I’m passionate about the mission and vision of the college and excited to be a part of this community.”
“I’m also fortunate to live on the 15th floor,” she added. “The study lounges have big windows and you can take in all of San Diego. Especially at night, the campus looks really cool.”
When the other four buildings open in phases starting in early 2024, the neighborhood will provide housing for 2,000 undergraduate students, a market hall, convenience retailers, improvements to Ridge Walk, parking for approximately 1,200 cars and an enhanced valet/drop-off area for theatre patrons in the adjacent Joan and Irwin Jacobs Theatre District—home to multiple performance spaces used by both the Department of Theatre and Dance and La Jolla Playhouse. It will also include new artwork, including 10 benches created by local artist James Stone, from Stone and Glass in Escondido, and UC San Diego students. Each bench is a unique theme inspired by campus life, created in aluminum and glass.
Macey Keung, a media major at Sixth College who helped to create one of the benches, described the inspiration for her design, “UC San Diego students are no strangers to the friendly animals that live on our campus. Our unofficial mascot, raccoons, can be spotted all over. I wanted to dedicate a bench to these wonderful animals who we share a space with, a funny anomaly that all UC San Diego students bond over.”
Close to Topping Out at Pepper Canyon West
On the other side of campus, Pepper Canyon West Living and Learning Neighborhood is halfway through construction and making tremendous progress toward opening in the fall of 2024. The project is located on the Central Campus trolley stop of the UC San Diego Blue Line and features 1,300 single-occupancy rooms for transfer and upper-division undergraduate students in two 22- and 23-story towers. The towers should reach their ultimate height, or “top out,” by the end of the year.
Each residence features California-made prefabricated bathroom and kitchen units, the first of which were delivered to the site, slid into the building and eased into position for hookup over the summer. These prefabricated units help to reduce the construction schedule, increase quality and safety and they also help to reduce waste with water efficient features and the use of recycled materials.
Breaking Ground at Ridge Walk North
Last, but not least, construction started on Ridge Walk North Living and Learning Neighborhood this summer. Located northwest of Geisel Library on Ridge Walk, it is designed to accommodate 2,400 undergraduate students and support the university’s academic mission by providing updated administrative and teaching space for Thurgood Marshall College, the Department of Economics in the School of Social Sciences and the School of Global Policy and Strategy.
The neighborhood will include 19 new classrooms and a 150-seat lecture hall for campus-wide academics as well as student dining, wellness programming, student support services, study lounges, co-working spaces and public realm improvements, such as outdoor gathering spaces and public art. The project also includes a glass blowing craft studio which will be open to the public, similar in size to the studio at the UC San Diego Craft Center.
"This visionary project not only addresses the pressing need for student housing but also enhances our academic environment with modern facilities and a vibrant community spirit,” said UC San Diego Student Body President George Chi Ioi Lo. “By integrating advanced classrooms, comprehensive student support services and engaging public spaces, this neighborhood will empower us to flourish both academically and personally. I’m excited about the immense benefits this development will bring to our university community.”
Building, and Building Green
In each of these new neighborhoods and throughout the campus, UC San Diego is not only focused on building, but building green. For example, the design of Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood includes “the ramble”—a grassy, verdant pathway and common space that winds between each residential building and creates a parklike natural setting. Beyond serving as a greenspace where students can step into nature and relax, the ramble creates a bioswale, or a natural stormwater runoff system, while also integrating native and adaptive plants into the campus design. Over the next 20 years the 220 new trees on the site—which was previously a parking lot—will sequester over 46 tons of CO2 and prevent 65,000 gallons of stormwater runoff annually.
All new buildings on campus are certified Gold or—or higher—in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. A decade ago, UC San Diego celebrated its first LEED Platinum certified building, the Charles David Keeling apartments at Revelle College. The most recent projects to receive this top recognition are Franklin Antonio Hall and the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood, which were both certified LEED Platinum earlier this year.
A New Menu and a Fresh Look as Ventanas Reopens
Ventanas reopened this fall after a significant upgrade. Indoor and outdoor seating areas were updated with curved concrete planters enhancing the original design. The light-filled dining spot near Eleanor Roosevelt College now includes a full-service coffee house, empanadas and assorted hand pies made on-site and a new tandoor oven to prepare Indian cuisine.
The new menu will also highlight dishes from the African diaspora. Housing, Dining and Hospitality worked with the Black Resource Center leadership, students and celebrity chefs Kenny Gilbert, Diana Tandia and Nelson German to develop the menu from the cuisines of Africa, the Caribbean, parts of South America and the American South. Examples include, poulet nyembwe from Gabon and poulet yassa from Senegal; callaloo and jerk chicken from the Caribbean and gumbo, okra, grits and black-eyed peas from the Americas.
The campus community can review the tantalizing menus and order online via the Triton2Go app. Students, faculty and staff can also take advantage of the zero waste containers in the innovative Triton2Go program. Since the program’s launch in 2020, more than one million single-use containers have been diverted from the landfill.
UC San Diego Markets Introduce Amazon’s Just Walk Out Technology
Three on-campus markets at UC San Diego—Roger’s Market, Sixth Market and Seventh Market—now feature Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology, eliminating checkout lines and saving valuable time for students, faculty and staff. UC San Diego is the first location in San Diego to feature this technology, which can also be found elsewhere in California and across the U.S. Check it out!
New Market and Mexican Grill Coming to Campus in 2024
The university will bring gourmet groceries and a locally sourced fresh Mexican eatery to campus when Camino Farms and Pichudo Mexican Grill opens next summer. Located in the first floor of the Design and Innovation Building, adjacent to the Epstein Family Amphitheater and the Central Campus trolley stop of the UC San Diego Blue Line, Camino Farms will offer sushi and poke, pizza, burgers, Mediterranean shawarma, an east coast style deli, gelato, fresh juice and smoothies.
All of these physical improvements to the university contribute to a broad vision to enhance UC San Diego’s presence as a premier destination for students, employees, health personnel, patients and community members, bringing new connections, medical facilities, labs, housing and places to reflect, innovate and celebrate to the campus and the region.
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