UCR Gets Its First Look at Transformative North District Development Concepts

The project will provide 4,000 to 6,000 new student beds. It also includes new dining facilities and retail services.

North District is a 50-acre site, which is bounded by Linden Street, Canyon Crest Drive, and Blaine Street. ucr

The University of California, Riverside, campus community got its first look Oct. 10 at conceptual designs for the future student housing and mixed-use project that will redefine the UCR campus and its relationship to the community.

The North District Project has been in the early planning stage since 2015-2016.  On Tuesday the 300 people assembled in the Highlander Union Building glimpsed what the student housing complex might look like. They viewed multimedia slide shows, and gathered around three-dimensional and digital renderings presented by the three finalists competing to develop the 50-acre site, which is bounded by Linden Street, Canyon Crest Drive, and Blaine Street.

“The campus’ physical infrastructure is being absolutely transformed,” said Vice Chancellor for Business and Administrative Services Ron Coley, introducing the three developers prior to their presentations.

Presenting developers included three student housing development veterans, American Campus Communities (ACC), Campus Acquisitions Student Living (CA Student Living), and Education Realty Trust Collegiate Housing (EdR). Each presented its vision for what one of the architects referred to as “one of the biggest (campus) projects in the country.”

All three designs relied upon UCR’s mid-century, modernist design, and borrowed heavily from what CA Student Living designer Tim Stevens called “UCR brick” – a tan-colored brick featured predominantly on the campus, where construction occurred in earnest during the 1950s and 60s.

There were common elements in all three designs presented, a product of the reference materials UCR provided. All received a physical master plan study, campus design guidelines, information about a planned mobility hub, and other campus infrastructure plans. The designs included a “pedestrian mall” – or dominant walkway – and campus gateways at the corners of Blaine Street and Canyon Crest Drive and Linden Street and Canyon Crest Drive.

American Campus’ design emphasized pedestrian and bicycle traffic exclusively in its interior. As with the other designs, ACC’s includes two intramural fields, a regulation soccer field and a field house, which is an indoor athletic facility.

CA Student Living’s design featured elements such as “The Heart,” an outdoor student hub with an amphitheater, and “The Maker Alley,” an open-air mall and innovation hub. It also included the tallest proposed buildings, dramatic, nine- and 10-story dormitories that jut dramatically into the sky, with the Box Spring mountains as a backdrop.

“Keeping with the theme of UCR, these are simple buildings in a dramatic landscape,” said Nick Seierup, a designer from Perkins+Will, working as part of the CA Student Living group.

EdR emphasized the benefits of prefabrication. Julie Skolnicki, a vice president for EdR, said building some components offsite would cut eight months off the construction timetable, and would reduce impacts to campus. The company’s design was the only to feature recreation fields on the interior of the development, rather than on the periphery.

EdR’s called its take on the pedestrian mall “The Arroyo,” Spanish for “The River.” It featured a stream of reclaimed water running along the walkway.

The North District Project will provide 4,000 to 6,000 new student beds for undergraduate and graduate students over time. The project also includes new dining facilities and retail services.

In November, the project developer will be chosen. The design phase will begin soon after, continuing into 2018. Construction will be from 2018 to 2020, with the first phrase set to open in fall 2020. The first phase includes most of the key elements of the development.

To view the proposed plans, and to offer feedback, visit res.ucr.edu or send an email to casoutreach@ucr.edu.

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