UC San Diego breaks ground on tallest campus housing complex in its history

A rendering depicts UC San Diego's Pepper Canyon West Living and Learning Neighborhood, which will house 1,310 students.
(Courtesy of Perkins&Will)

Pepper Canyon West will have buildings that are 22 and 23 stories high.


UC San Diego’s race to create housing for its booming student population gained speed this week when the university broke ground on a 1,310-student village that will feature the two tallest residential towers in the University of California system.

The $365 million Pepper Canyon West Living and Learning Neighborhood, which is scheduled to open in fall 2024, is one of three massive residential centers that will add more than 5,000 beds to the La Jolla university’s housing capacity by fall 2025. The university is already able to house about 18,000 students, ranking it third nationwide, behind Penn State and UCLA.

Two planned projects will push housing capacity to more than 22,000.

Pepper Canyon West will be composed primarily of two towers standing 22 and 23 stories tall. The project also will have 6,000 square feet of retail, including cafes and shops facing the VA Medical Center.

UCSD is in the process of building or planning six buildings that will range from 16 to 23 stories. The expansion is creating a skyline for the campus, which was once largely hidden behind eucalyptus trees.

The UC San Diego campus in La Jolla is in a major state of change, with $6 billion in projects underway, planned or proposed.

The university, which will have about 44,000 students this fall, is going vertical because “the simple fact is we have limited land,” Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said. “We are expanding access to California students. .... The only way we can accommodate these students while accommodating our programs is to grow a bit taller.”

Khosla helped persuade state legislators to set aside hundreds of millions of dollars to build housing at public colleges and universities in California. UCSD will get $100 million from that fund to help pay to build Pepper Canyon West.

The village will become part of the university’s emerging “front door.” It will be next to the Central Campus Blue Line trolley station that opened last fall. In October, UCSD will open the 2,650-seat Epstein Family Amphitheater in the same plaza area.

— La Jolla Light staff contributed to this report.