No UCSB student is a stranger to the seemingly endless detours and traffic caused by campus construction. With the near completion of new campus buildings and the widening of roads nearby, certain subtle changes are being made to the university that will ultimately culminate in a complete renewal of the UCSB campus by 2025.
Dubbed Vision 2025, the project will demolish temporary structures on campus, increase the campus, connection to the surrounding natural environment, create a unified architectural flow on campus, and improve bike, pedestrian, and vehicle traffic. The plans for Vision 2025, which can be found at ucsbvision2025.com, state that “the present campus has a rich variety of spaces and a diverse collection of buildings which fail to create a coherent environment.” The buildings at UCSB, which have been created over numerous decades in many different architectural styles, do not leave an impression of architectural unity. Vision 2025 aims to remedy this by tying together the various structures and public spaces on campus through extensive remodeling, refurbishing, and new construction projects. The plan also accounts for a projected increase of about 5,000 students in the next 15 years, creating new classrooms and on-campus housing to accommodate this growth.
Much of the construction students see now is actually a response to an earlier 1990 long-range development plan. This plan was originally implemented to account for an increased growth in student population, responding with increased square footage for instruction, research, housing, and more. The new buildings at the corner of El Colegio and Ocean as well as the addition to Engineering II are part of this previous plan. But according to Marc Fisher, Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Design and Facilities, Vision 2025 has “bold aspirations” that for the most part have remained unchallenged.
Some dissent can be seen in signs along the border between campus and Isla Vista, however. Some call for the preservation of the “Eucalyptus Curtain” that divides the campus from I.V. First-year student Chey Gustason, who often walks by the eucalyptus trees in the morning on her walk to a class in I.V. Theater, expressed her regret that the school plans to remove the trees. “They’re just such beautiful, old trees, and I can’t imagine the walk into I.V. without them.” Students are also worried about the removal of Pardall tunnel in the proposed remodeling of Ocean Road.”
At this point, Vision 2025 is still in its early stages, and an environmental impact report has been presented. If approved, the Vision will still have to go to the UC Regents in July or September, and later to environmental organizations. This process will take about another year and a half, assuming everything goes smoothly; ideally, construction will begin shortly after the approvals. Despite these wait periods, Fisher emphasizes that â€œthere is a lot of work ahead of us in the meantime.”
There are a few dissenters, but for the most part the Vision has been met with positivism. In light of the recent budget cuts and the overall increased competition to enter the UC system, it seems that Vision 2025 will be the makeover that will finalize UCSB into a world-class academic institution. Perhaps the changes in architecture and layout at UCSB will reflect not only the last decade of immense academic growth but also illustrate the campus” future.