Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Cal Student Days (1964-1965)

I had the good fortune to transfer to Cal when the architecture school was still functioning in the Arc – the famed old wood shingle building near Euclid Avenue.   We did a semester-long project designing the multi-use building shown here.  My brick and concrete structure is well grounded and even sunk into the site a bit – a precursor of my career-long love of strong partnerships with the land.  I took an advanced painting class as well.
The second semester of design was taught by Charles Moore in the new concrete Wurster Hall.  We spent the entire semester dealing with things like kinesthetics and trying to accommodate Santa Barbara’s Spanish stylization to evolving contemporary needs.  This was frustrating and I don’t recall a single outstanding building or idea resulting from the entire classes’ work.  I had to repeat planning and Professor Denise Scott Brown’s approach almost brought me to tears with the superficiality of it all.  Oscar Palacios and I presented Denise with a well thought out argument for why she should excuse us from the class work and do individual study, but she refused us.  Oscar dropped out of school rather than continue the misery.  I stuck with it, but with fourth year essentially being planning design and fifth year being a thesis I stood to only be designing one more building.  I needed more than this.

The biggest student influences on me at Cal were from my onetime roommate, Walter Thomason, and an upper classman I still have not met to this day, Craig Hodgetts.  Craig’s architecture and sculpture had a skill and integrity that resonated with me and is still apparent in his architecture today.

Although I saw myself as a Californian I had a strong desire to better understand the desert.  Arizona has plenty of desert, Taliesin West, and Arcosanti so I decided to transfer and complete my studies at Arizona State in Tempe.