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September 26, 1965 — First Students move in and the first Convocation October 1, 2015

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Fifty years ago, on Sunday, September 26, 1965, Mesa Court opened and 500 students moved into the residence halls on that day. Mesa Court was the first residence hall community at UCI. It is now the largest student community on campus, housing 1,834 undergraduates in 29 residence halls.  Each hall accommodates between 54 and 71 residents in suite-style layout.  Mesa Court now houses mainly first year students.

The first Convocation also took place on that same day in Campus Hall (now Crawford Hall). Student representative Diane Holt gave the keynote address, saying “What a truly beautiful campus this is! We are indeed fortunate to be able to pursue our education in such inspiring surroundings…. We are small in number, but we have much to do…. As our late President John Fitzgerald Kennedy said, ‘Let us begin.'” Other speakers included Chancellor Daniel G. Aldrich, Jr., President Clark Kerr, Regent Philip L. Boyd, Professor James B. Hall, and Executive Secretary of the Interfaith Council Cecil E. Hoffman gave the invocation.
[University Communications Photographs. AS-061]

Mesa Court construction in January 1965

Mesa Court construction in January 1965.

Move in day in September 1965, as the campus opens.

Move in day on September 26, 1965, as the campus opens.

Check-in on move-in day, September 1965.

Check-in on move in day, September 26, 1965.

A Convocation reception was held in the Commons (now Gateway Study Center) From left: Chancellor Aldrich, Regent John E. Canaday, Mrs. Harry R. Wellman, Regent Philip L. Boyd, President Kerr, William L. Pereira, and Vice Chancellor Peltason.

The Convocation reception was held in the Commons (now Gateway Study Center) From left: Chancellor Aldrich, Regent John E. Canaday, Mrs. Harry R. Wellman, Regent Philip L. Boyd, President Kerr, William L. Pereira, and Vice Chancellor Jack Peltason.

 President Clark Kerr is at the rostrum at the Convocation. Faculty and distinguished guests are also on stage. Parents and friends filled the hall to capacity of over 2,000.

President Clark Kerr is at the rostrum at the Convocation. Faculty and distinguished guests are also on stage. Parents and friends filled the hall to capacity of over 2,000.

Campus architecture tour with Alan Hess October 4, 2013

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The Southern California chapter of the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS) stopped by for a visit, and invited us along to join an architectural tour around the campus. (Thank you!)

Alan Hess, architect and historian, led a walking tour of the campus, describing William Pereira’s architectural work and influence on the UCI campus.

3 things we learned from Alan Hess:

  1. Pereira was a modernist architect, noted for his futuristic designs. He also loved science fiction. That explains why UCI works so well as the set of this 1972 film on ape slave labor in the 1990’s.
  2. Pereira initially planned to have the UCI campus and Irvine community integrated seamlessly — but the unsolved mystery of 1970 changed everything.
  3. Pereira was a man of exquisite style and taste, and was chaffeured around in a Bentley. We really wish we had a photo of this.

William L. Pereira and Associates Project Workbooks for the University of California, Irvine Campus documents the preliminary planning of the campus, and shows the evolution of concepts for the campus layout. Here’s a peek at something we found in the collection:

Early model of the UCI campus from the William L. Pereira and Associates Project Workbooks for the University of California, Irvine Campus (AS-127)

Early model of the UCI campus from the William L. Pereira and Associates Project Workbooks for the University of California, Irvine Campus (AS-127)

UCI Site Selection — Was This the First Choice? April 22, 2011

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Signing of agreement for campus site on July 22, 1960. Sitting at the table are UC President Clark Kerr (right) and UC Regent Ed Pauley (left).

On June 19, 1958, the Regents’ Site Selection Committee met to hear architect William Pereira present a large number of potential sites for the location of the UCI campus. The Irvine Ranch was one of the four finalists considered in Orange County and the one Pereira considered to be the best. However, the Regents’ first choice was a site in Newport Beach on the slopes of what is now known as Spyglass Hill, near the current location of Fashion Island. The site had a beautiful view of the coast and Catalina Island. While discussions of the proposed site were occurring, land at the center of the site was sold to the Pacific View Memorial Park cemetery. Joan Irvine Smith offered the cemetery an alternative site, including access to a water supply, a needed road, and an equally amazing view. However, Pacific View remained committed to their site. Due to the fact that several burials had occurred in the meantime, the cemetery’s original choice became secured. The second choice for the UCI campus was on the Irvine Ranch, and it was that site that was eventually selected.

AS-090. Agreements Between UCI and Irvine Company. Special Collections and Archives, the U.C. Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California.

How Aldrich Park might have been April 19, 2010

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Early proposals for the design of the Campus Park (later called Aldrich Park) included an almost 300 foot tall central bell tower which would have been called “Centrum,”  as well as several connected lakes.  Centrum would have been the tallest built structure in Orange County and visible for miles. These aspects of the design were not completed.  The University Archives has numerous photographs of  Pereira’s architectural models and campus plans.  Pereira’s project workbooks ( Collection # AS-127), which document the various phases of campus planning can also be found in the University Archives.

 AS-061.  University Communications Photographs. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California.
 

Early planning for physical layout of campus April 16, 2010

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In the winter of 1962, UC President Clark Kerr invited UCI Architect William Pereira and UCI Chancellor Daniel Aldrich to meet him in Berkeley to discuss how best to use the newly selected Irvine campus site. At the meeting, Kerr recalled an influential book he had read as a graduate student, Johann Heinric von Thunen’s Der Isolierte Staat (1863), in which he envisioned the ideal city “as a series of concentric circles starting out with central city buildings and going out to industrial, housing and agricultural areas.” Kerr then drew a rough sketch of a proposed layout of the Irvine campus, a circle with the names of disciplines around it. The basic design was then elaborated during the physical planning, which incorporated a concentric and radial scheme. The Central Campus was designed to consist of six quadrangles, each representing an academic unit, which radiated out of the ring. The ring unified the school both functionally and artistically. Distances between each quad were minimized and provided movement for pedestrians and bicycles. At the center of the ring is the 29-acre Daniel Aldrich Park, originally named Campus Park, which is the metaphorical heart of the campus. Designed as an informal gathering place, it was based on the central parks of cities and universities throughout the world.

UCI Campus Layout

Pereira’s Early Campus Plans November 13, 2009

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William L. Pereira, the UC Irvine architect went through several proposals for the UCI campus before a plan was finalized.  Some of the initial proposals in 1962-1963 added a bell tower in the center of Campus Park.   The tower, which was never built, was named “centrum.”  Several lakes in campus park were also part of an early campus plan.  These designs did not go through as proposed, but imagine how different the landscape would be if they had?  The University Archives has numerous photographs of  Pereira’s architectural models and campus plans.  Pereira’s project workbooks ( Collection # AS-127), which document the various phases of campus planning can also be found in the University Archives.

AS-061.  Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California.

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