Thursday, January 14, 2010

Learning From Campuses: UCLA

UCLA's Royce Hall sits astride a major square on the east side of campus

There is much we can learn about urban design by examining college campuses. These places are generally pedestrian oriented, dense, mix land uses, feature prominent open spaces, and have unique architecture. In other words, they're good models for how to build a neighborhood.

The University of California, Los Angeles is located in hilly terrain on the west side of LA. On the west side of campus there are dormitories with integrated restaurants and cafes. These are mostly mammoth (7 stories) and have little to no off-street parking. The university's parking is handled by a series of garages throughout campus that you have to pay for (good).

Just west of the dorms, off campus, there is dense apartment housing in the 3-4 story range mostly. To the south, we have Westwood "Villiage", which features a diverse mix of retail and office space, and several classic single-screen movie theatres. In the eastern part of campus, we have most of the University's buildings. In the central part, there are hospitals, and common areas for students and the community.

Transit wise, we have Wilshire Blvd. to the south, which features three overlapping bus routes (20, 720, and 920) and has been conceived as a terminus for the Wilshire subway. UCLA also contains a regional bus center used mainly by Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus system.

The main problem is how expensive housing is in Westwood. But, if you can afford to live there, UCLA and Westwood offer a remarkably rich variety of experiences within a one-mile radius, which is walkable and bikeable, if you're able bodied, and not too much of a whiner :)

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