UCSC selects acclaimed New York firm to design Institute of Arts and Sciences

Asia Society Hong Kong, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architecture
Asia Society Hong Kong, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architecture (Photo by Michael Moran).
Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architecture
Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architecture (Photo by Michael Moran).
Center for the Advancement of Public Action, Bennington College, designed by Tod Williams
Center for the Advancement of Public Action, Bennington College, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architecture.
Tod Williams
Tod Williams (photo by Dorothy Alexander)
Billie Tsien
Billie Tsien (photo by Dorothy Alexander)

The University of California, Santa Cruz, announced today that the award-winning New York firm, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, has been selected to design the campus’s new Institute of the Arts and Sciences.

Conceived as more than a museum, the Institute will be the first of its kind at a research university, focusing on both the arts and the sciences and their relationship to other disciplines. Designed to function as an intellectual hub, it will provide space for site-specific installations, exhibits, seminars, residencies by artists and scholars, and hands-on research by students and faculty.

With a national and international scope, the Institute will also curate traveling art exhibitions and create projects linked to the university curriculum, drawing from the rich archives and collections of all of the UC campuses. 

“After an international search that included some of the most renowned architects working today, we are thrilled to welcome the firm of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects as designers of the signature facility for our new Institute of Arts and Sciences,” said UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal.

“The site for this Institute is one of unsurpassed beauty,” noted Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. “We are inspired by the challenge to create a place that will nourish the spirit of discovery and honor the power of this land. We hope to make a place with a great and shining spirit to nurture a rich and creative dialogue for the arts and sciences.”

Winner of last year’s American Institute of Architects “Firm of the Year” Award, TWBTA has been practicing architecture in New York for over 25 years.

“Their elegant and widely praised design for the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia is only the most recent example of the strong track record of cultural and educational projects they have built,” noted John Weber, founding director of UCSC’s Institute of the Arts and Sciences. “Two examples on the West Coast are the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla and the C.V. Starr East Asian Library at UC Berkeley.”

Known as teachers and mentors as well as designers, Williams and Tsien have taught extensively at architecture schools around the country and are currently on the faculty at Yale University. For UC Santa Cruz's Institute of the Arts and Sciences, TWBTA will collaborate with the San Francisco architects TEF and the landscape architect Cheryl Barton.

“Past clients of TWBTA universally praised their design vision, commitment to architectural quality, and ability to both listen and lead in the design process,” said David Yager, UCSC Dean of the Arts. “They are known as superb collaborators.” 

Sited with stunning views of Monterey Bay, the Institute’s architectural plan calls for a 30,000-square-foot facility that will include exhibition galleries; seminar rooms and public event spaces; collection storage; studios and offices; a café; and ample public gathering areas.

“There is no other university in the world that attempts to coexist with a natural landscape of UCSC’s complexity and beauty,” noted UCSC Campus Architect John Barnes. “And there is no other academic program trying to do what the Institute will do. We were looking for architects with the intelligence to challenge our preconceptions, the flexibility to respond to our requirements, and the creativity to ignite the imagination of those who will use and visit the Institute,” said Barnes.”

The first task for the architects at UCSC will be to review and revise their initial concept for the facility, after which they will produce a fundraising package of renderings and concept plans.

Weber said that the University anticipates moving quickly into the next programming phases in the summer and fall, working with a campus-wide committee to establish the Institute’s final design.  “The precise construction calendar for the new facility will depend on the pace of fundraising,” Weber noted.

Construction cost of the new building is currently estimated between $32 million and $40 million in 2014 dollars. Total project costs, including design and engineering fees, environmental reviews, utilities, and other associated costs have been set at $55 million.

The Institute of the Arts and Sciences is one of the priority initiatives of UC Santa Cruz’s comprehensive fundraising campaign announced in the fall of 2013.

The Campaign for UC Santa Cruz supports excellence across the university through increased private investment in the people and ideas shaping the future. It is bringing critical new resources to each academic division, and to signature initiatives in the Student Experience, Genomics and Health, Coastal Sustainability, the Institute of the Arts and Sciences, and Data Science Leadership.