The Future of Kresge College

College’s development reaches design and environmental review phase

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Kresge College, built in the ’70s, was meant to last about 40 years. Now over 10 years past its expiration, the buildings are well past its prime. To remedy this, Kresge is preparing to renovate and remove its current buildings and construct completely new ones. The project is expected to start in 2019 and finish in 2023.

“It’s overdue because the buildings are dilapidated and falling apart,” said Nick Zandbergen, a Kresge first-year. He explained his apartment’s plumbing problems and creaking noises. Other residents spoke of ladybug infestations and allergic reactions to mold or mildew.

For the past two and a half years UC Santa Cruz students, staff, faculty, alumni and the project’s architects from Studio Gang and Tef Design have worked to develop a new model of Kresge. The Kresge Committee is now drafting the project’s environmental impact report (EIR), which must be approved before constructing.

Jolie Kerns, UCSC interim campus planner and Alisa Klaus, UCSC senior environmental planner, held a meeting on April 17 where people were invited to learn about the development project and provide oral comments on the future draft EIR.

The Kresge Committee plans to construct two to three new residential buildings to increase bed capacity, an academic building including a 250 or 600 seat lecture hall, the 600 seat option seeing considerable pushback from students, and academic offices, a new Town Hall and more community spaces. Fourteen buildings will be renovated, nine buildings will be removed and more accessible routes will be created throughout the college.

“It’s a little bit isolated from the campus and it’s hard to find, and it’s not really connected,” said Andrew Wolfram, one of the architects of the project from Tef Design. “So one of the main ideas of the project is really to enhance its connectivity to campus, make it easier to get to, more of a destination.”

Other than Kresge’s need for renovations, many Kresge students hope to keep the college’s co-ops and unique sense of community throughout the redevelopment process.

Community input from almost monthly open town hall meetings, which an average of 10 students attend, said Kresge Parliament chair Hana King, provided the basis for much of what the project will include. The design team aims to keep the feel of Kresge, but specific design aspects are not yet set in stone, such as what the interior structure and residential layout of the buildings will look like.

“In terms of student perspective there’s just so much that’s still being worked out,” King said. “But for the most part, they’ve been really responsive to student opinion and they definitely considered it, at least from the plans that I’ve been shown.”

Kresge must also now comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), passed in 1990 after Kresge was built, which requires public spaces to be accessible to persons with physical disabilities. Making the college accessible also works well with the designers’ goal of making Kresge more connected to the rest of campus.

In order to meet ADA standards, the design team plans to widen and raise the Kresge bridge and eliminate the stairs on each side of it, which will make the college wheelchair accessible from the bus stop and make Kresge more visible from the outside. Residential, academic and student support spaces will also be reorganized according to the type of building. Kresge’s Town Hall, cafe and four co-ops will be relocated to the bottom of the hill near where the food co-op currently sits.

Kresge will be rebuilt in two phases and will remain a functional college during the four years of development, but frosh class size may temporarily decrease due to lower housing availability, said Ben Leeds Carson, Kresge provost.

The design will provide a net increase of about 200 beds to Kresge’s current 365 beds. Administrators and architects are not yet sure if the beds will be configured in apartments, large suites, dorms or a combination. There have been talks among the Kresge Committee of creating large suites fitting about 13 beds and it is unclear whether they will include kitchens.

“Kresge has this community to it, this sense of where you’re living, it just creates and fosters a great place for you to come home and really become closer with your apartment mates,” said Daniel Reyes, a Kresge third-year. “[…] If you’re living in a dorm your first year, it could be hard to make friends or to outreach.”

Budget constrictions and need for higher bed counts are influencing the potential decision not to include kitchens or apartments for first-years. Kresge’s redevelopment budget is capped at $250 million and currently budgeted to use the full amount.

UCSC and UC administration previously wanted to use a public–private partnership (P3), which would have leased the land to a private company to develop and maintain until the development is paid off. Student Housing West, the housing project that will build 3,000 more beds and relocate Family Student Housing, will be built using a P3 model. Due to considerable pushback from Kresge students, staff, faculty and alumni, Kresge will instead be built using public funds.

“Kresge and the particular student driven and autonomous nature of some of its different communities — its cooperatives, its tradition of service learning and its tradition of trying to think out of conventional transactions and conventional economics,” Provost Ben Carson said. “That wasn’t going to be a very good match for a private company.”

Moving forward, a committee of more than 15 students from Kresge’s student organizations and co-ops will be regularly consulted on the design process. The Kresge Committee will continue to hold forums in which students can provide design input.

“We need [students] to remain active in [the conversation] so we can still hear [their] evolving views and needs,” Carson said. “The more students are continuously involved in that conversation, the more likely this college is going to take a shape that is a really meaningful expression of what students need and desire here.”

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Shinae Lee is Arts and Culture Editor for City on a Hill Press. She has reported for every desk at City on a Hill in her two years on the paper, but has focused most of her time until now as a campus reporter and editor. She describes her favorite reporting subject as, “in-depth stories about things that really matter to people.” Though she focuses much of her time on the newspaper, she is also a Feminist Studies major, vice president of the Korean American Student Association, print coordinator for Student Media and occasional babysitter. In her scarce and precious free time she can be found organizing her life artistically in her bullet journal, watching The Great British Baking Show or traveling on a budget.