SANTA BARBARA — UCSB has broken ground on a new classroom building that will expand the campus’ seating capacity by 2,000 seats, or 35% of the current capacity. Before now, the college hadn’t built a structure dedicated to classrooms since 1967.
The project was approved in 2019 and is anticipated to open in spring 2023.
“During a pandemic that has required much attention and focus on the immediate, we are excited to share a piece of good news regarding our campus’ future,” Chancellor Henry T. Yang said. “While in many ways the pandemic has dominated the past year, this project reminds us that our commitment to advancing teaching and research cannot be overshadowed.”
Appropriations from the 2019-20 State Budget Act will help fund the project.
Gene Lucas, building committee chair and former executive vice chancellor, said the building is “long overdue.”
“The Registrar has been struggling to schedule classes into our existing inventory for over a decade,” he said. “It also provides an opportunity to develop classrooms that enable the newest teaching methods to be applied, from turn-to-teach abilities in large classrooms (enabling an almost instant transition from lecture to group study) to project-based-learning in a flipped classroom approach. These are teaching styles that greatly appeal to our incoming students, as they have been learning in a team-based approach since kindergarten.”
The building allows classrooms to be reconfigured for large lectures and smaller classes, whatever the course requires.
“When it is completed, the new classroom building will accomplish an important campus goal to modernize our teaching facilities, and will enhance the educational experience for a large number of our students,” said Susannah Scott, distinguished professor of chemical engineering and of chemistry and biochemistry and chair of the Academic Senate. “The new facility will also allow instructors to integrate new teaching technologies where appropriate and to incorporate active learning in a wide range of formats.”
The flow of traffic surrounding the building is important to keep thousands of students from crowding. The architects designed a corridor to integrate the building seamlessly with campus.
“LMN Architects have greatly enjoyed collaborating with university leadership to envision a building and public spaces that are open and welcoming, drawing on the coastal climate and spectacular natural setting to create a place that will be among the most heavily used on campus,” said Stephen Van Dyck, principal architect and partner in the firm.
“The building’s site and design represent a major step forward towards the goals of the university’s long range development plan, anticipating the eventual extension of Library Mall to the south and realizing the eastward extension of Pardall Mall, ultimately linking several of the campus’ most significant shared buildings along these major public spaces,” he said.
Architects also planned for a heavy amount of bicycle traffic and more than 1,800 bicycle parking spaces.
“This building will have a transformational impact,” said David Marshall, executive vice chancellor. “We are all eager to return from the exile of remote teaching to the community of the classroom, yet we have a new awareness of the potential of instructional technologies. We can look forward to having a 21st-century facility in which to reinvigorate our commitment to teaching and learning.”
— Annelise Hanshaw