The site for the Institute of the Arts and Sciences is located near the geographic center of UC Santa Cruz’s 2,000 acre campus, poised between the Great Meadow and the Jordan Gulch ravine, and on the edge of the campus arts cluster.
According to Campus Architect, John Barnes, the Institute will be the only building on campus that encompasses the three primary ecological conditions of the campus, including grasslands, oak ecotone, and second-growth redwood forest. As Arts Dean David Yager sees it, this is perfect for the Institute, since it is intended to serve as the University’s most public destination and offer visitors a sense of what makes the campus unique—both within the UC system, and nationally.
The design philosophy of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects is to "leave good marks upon this earth."
This is a site that will benefit from the care and sensitivity of the "good marks" left by the architects. Their initial design concept, presented on April 3, outlines a building design and site plan sensitive to the natural setting, respecting the landscape of the Great Meadow, the redwood forest, and forest-edge oak ecotone conditions within which the building will be nested.
Williams and Tsien cite the strong relationships that students, staff, and faculty have with the environment at UC Santa Cruz as essential to their design concept for the IAS. The human experience at UC Santa Cruz reflects an interplay between the interior built spaces of the campus and the dramatic exterior landscape and natural environment; campus life and learning happens both in classrooms and on the meandering network of trails and bridges that runs throughout the campus. Williams and Tsien's concept for the Institute of the Arts and Sciences is a building that opens up to the surrounding landscape, emulating and encouraging the blending between inside and outside that already embodies the campus experience.