North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood: La Jolla's UC San Diego breaks ground for Sixth College’s new home

UC San Diego officials dug shovels into the dirt to kick-off construction of the planned, 10-acre, seven-building, $627-million North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood, June 18, in an elaborate ceremony on what will be the Neighborhood’s site in Fall 2020.

Billed as the “the largest in the history of the architecturally acclaimed campus,” the project will be the new home for Sixth College. The Neighborhood will be comprised of two academic buildings (one for social sciences and one for arts and humanities); four residential buildings with 2,000 undergraduate beds; a 1,200-space underground parking area; auditorium; market; dining hall; retail space and a craft center. It will be located between Muir and Marshall Colleges on the west campus.

Sixth College opened in September 2001 as the sixth and newest college at UC San Diego.

In the years leading up to the groundbreaking, La Jolla residents reviewed the project and some voiced strong objections. Chiefly, a group in the nearby Blackhorse residential community lamented the increases in traffic and lifestyle impacts the Neighborhood would create, during scoping meetings in mid-2017.

In late 2017, the La Jolla Shores Association criticized the timing of the public review process (which ended around the December holidays), and suggested the environmental documents associated with the project did not thoroughly address traffic and environmental impacts.

Seeing the project as a step toward UCSD’s future development, Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said at the groundbreaking: “On this campus, students would come here, some would live here, most would live outside (campus) and even the ones who live here would leave by bus and go downtown to have a good time. My view is, once a student comes here, they should have no reason to leave this campus. We should have anything and everything you’d want to do and think about on this campus. This campus should be a destination for all of San Diego — Gaslamp, Balboa Park, UC San Diego campus.”

In walking around campus to explore the location for the Neighborhood, which is currently a parking lot, Khosla added: “I thought it was a travesty to have this parking lot overlooking the ocean. Nowhere in the country would you let that happen. We decided we are not going to have cars overlooking the ocean, we are going to have human beings overlooking the ocean and have our students living in buildings overlooking the ocean.”

Upon announcing the Neighborhood would include a craft center to replace the one that was demolished elsewhere on campus in late 2012, the crowd erupted in applause, leading Khosla to joke: “When we got rid of the craft center, all of you sent me hate mail, now will you send me love mail?”

Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Elizabeth Simmons called the Neighborhood “a physical representation of our ethos of non-tradition” and “a key element in the most transformational plan in our campus’ history.”

Noting the growing number and the diversity of the students coming to UCSD, she said: “In the past decade, we have seen our student enrollment climb by 25 percent as applications doubled and at the same time, the proportion of our students — first-generation college students, Pell (Grant) eligible or from under-represented minority populations — have grown even faster. By 2030, we will have more residential students than any campus in the nation.”

Simmons said the layout of the Neighborhood would help the students otherwise unfamiliar with campus life.

Architect Ricardo Rabines explained the Neighborhood would not only “transform the experience of the UC San Diego campus” but also “how we approach planning and design for the future.”

He said the “small urban approach” addresses the “critical challenges faced by communities today: questions of growth and density, diversity and inclusion, and always through the lens of economical sustainability.”

Hemlata Jhaveri, executive director of UCSD Housing and Dining concluded the presentation proclaiming: “This neighborhood is truly going to be a live, learn and play experience for residents, faculty and the campus community.” She said there would be unique dining options available to students and faculty, as well as a “to-go market” that will be open to the community.

— Learn more about the project and view a map and renderings at livinglearning.ucsd.edu

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