Both a public and private space, the Chancellor’s Residence at UC Riverside has the potential to be a local and regional showcase for inspired sustainability, beauty and responsible environmental leadership.
This was the challenge to an interdisciplinary design studio developed by Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Environmental Design, pairing two departments that seldom have the opportunity to collaborate: landscape architecture and art.
Undergraduate and graduate students in landscape architecture and a senior-level motion graphics course developed four approaches to the residence. The studio was co-led by Professor Andrew Wilcox, interim chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture; Assistant Professor Anthony Acock from the Department of Art and lecturer Ray Senes from the Department of Landscape Architecture. The project’s goal was to act as an example of regional vision and partnership between two universities that serve the Inland Empire.
UCR funded the $32,000 cost of the studio, covering faculty time, student production costs, field trips and studio material. The exercise, Wilcox says, gave ENV students a chance to experience the kind of cross-disciplinary work typical in architecture and landscape architecture design firms, with the Chancellor’s Residence serving as a laboratory.
Constructed in 1959, the home sits on a two-acre lot in a neighborhood nestled in a small arroyo. It’s both a public and private space with scenic vistas.
Students made three visits to UCR to familiarize themselves with the residence and its environment. Four teams of 12 students built their concepts around the following themes:
Atypically Suburban. Studying the nature of typical Southern California single-family home land use and identifying the best sustainable approaches to typical conditions.
Beautiful Resilience. Investigating the Chancellor’s Residence as a primarily aesthetic landscape using traditions of garden design and climate-appropriate materials.
Food for Thought. Designing the residence as a productive landscape using the principles of permaculture and food production.
Habitat is Everywhere. Approaching the residence as habitat that could support local species of flora and fauna.
Each team was paired with a professional landscape architecture firm, which met with them three times during the quarter. The firms were EPT in Pasadena, Mia Lehrer + Associates in Downtown Los Angeles, SITE Design Studio in Eagle Rock, and Farmscapes in Los Angeles/Eagle Rock.
For many, the experience yielded personal growth. Graphic design senior Christian Gutierrez said he produced some of his best work in the studio course – large-scale posters, fliers, brochures, packaging, motion pieces and a 130-page booklet detailing the Beautiful Resilience team’s research and design process.
Last spring, the students presented their ideas to a panel of UCR stakeholders that included university officials and design professionals. Although the studio functioned more as an academic exercise than a design job, some of the projects’ concepts would be integrated into UCR’s future capital projects, said says Coley, a vice chancellor at UCR and husband of Cal Poly Pomona President Soraya M. Coley.
Ron Coley, who initiated the project, hopes the UCR-Cal Poly Pomona collaboration will be a model for future inter-university partnerships.
“This is the epitome of the learn-by-doing ethic Cal Poly Pomona lives by,” he says. “There are so many wonderful things about this collaboration. What I’m interested in is inspiring this collaboration with other disciplines. The objective for universities in this region is to help institutions leverage the comparative – not competing – advantages for opportunities to benefit from each other’s excellence, for the betterment of the students, the campuses, and the larger community of Southern California in the Inland Empire.”