Sunday, July 28, 2013

Galbraith Hall: A new life for a classic modernist building

Galbraith Hall auditorium by Kevin deFreitas. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Local San Diego architect, Kevin deFreitas, was recently asked by the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) to put a new auditorium into one of the first buildings on the campus, Galbraith Hall. What he created with a meagre budget has literally transformed the space - while still managing to respect its mid-century modernist roots -and almost makes me wish I was still a student. 

Galbraith Hall
The original exterior by Deems Lewis Martin, along with the new canopy entry by Kevin deFreitas. Photo ©Darren Bradley

Galbraith Hall, by Deems Lewis Martin Architects, was built in 1964 as the original library for the UCSD campus. It was named for the second chancellor of UCSD, John Galbraith. 
UCSD - Galbraith Hall

There's even a photo by Ansel Adams, taken in 1966, showing students studying in the space. At the time, the waffle concrete ceilings and skylights made for a beautiful design with lots of natural light. 

Photo by Ansel Adams of the original library interior of Galbraith Hall, taken in 1966.
This was two years after the opening. 
If this space had remained the same throughout the years, perhaps the story would have ended right there. But it didn't. A new central library was built and opened in 1970 (by William Pereira).  This space suffered from several modifications over the years, with a dropped ceiling added to cover up that waffle pattern, and many other changes. Here's a photo taken just before its closure. 

CLICS was ostensibly a study hall that was open 24 hours for Finals Week. Of course, as anyone familiar with it will tell you, it was more of a social scene than a place for any sort of conducive studying. 
It was called CLICS (for Center for Library and Instructional Computing Services) and was one of the few study halls on that side of campus. School officials made the unfortunate decision to close it for budget cuts just before finals a couple of years ago, and students broke in and forced to to reopen, just so they could study (only at UCSD, right?).
Photo ©Darren Bradley
Anyway, Kevin deFreitas was tasked with adding an auditorium to the central atrium space, and converting the perimeter spaces to study halls (24 hours!), a dance studio, a theater lighting lab, and offices.
Photo ©Darren Bradley
Photo ©Darren Bradley
The results speak for themselves. What I appreciate most is that Kevin respected the original design and its mid-century modern spirit, while creating something original.
Photo ©Darren Bradley
He got rid of the drop ceilings to expose the original waffle pattern, and clad the auditorium walls in a geometric pattern that is a modern riff on the shadow block from that time period.
Photo ©Darren Bradley
With the changing light, the walls of the auditorium transform throughout the day.
Photo ©Darren Bradley
In fact, it seems that a driving force behind Kevin's design was to take the advantage of the natural light from those skylights in the ceiling, and bring that into as play as much as 
possible throughout the rest of the space (including the restrooms!)
Photo ©Darren Bradley
Photo ©Darren Bradley
The interior of the auditorium is also an interesting geometry of patterns that plays tricks on the eyes with false perspectives. 
Photo ©Darren Bradley
Photo ©Darren Bradley
If you're in the neighborhood, stop by to visit in person! 
Photo ©Darren Bradley


isS said...

This place make my day!!
^ . ^

Thank you so much,

modarchitecture said...

Thank you, Isabel! Appreciate the comment. Thanks for stopping by!

Gretchen said...

What an outstanding transformation, especially in light of the fate so many buildings of that era are facing. Bravo to Kevin deFreitas and his team! And great post!, Darren!

Brian Moore said...

Nice blog post, Darren. Regarding your comment about Ansel Adams having taken a shot there, it's my understanding that Ansel was once commissioned to photograph all the UC campuses.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading the blog and as usual the great pictures. (I need to go back and read some of your blog posts I've missed now.)

modarchitecture said...

You are correct, Brian. He took photos of all the campuses at the time. Interesting stuff!

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