Campus environment led alumna to pursue architecture

Barbara Maloney
In her four-decade-long career, Maloney has done master plan and design work for Carnegie Mellon University; Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia; UC San Francisco and UC Merced, among others. She's now helping UC Santa Cruz develop its new long-range development plan.

Watching buildings rise from the forest on the UC Santa Cruz campus in the early ’70s changed the course of Barbara Maloney’s life.

Arriving from La Jolla in Southern California, Maloney (Stevenson, ’71, psychology) had come to the wooded campus to become a psychologist. But what caught her imagination while working in the college admissions office was the architecture of the eclectic university: the idiosyncratic modern style of Kresge College, the imposing concrete and glass buildings on Science Hill.

Soon, she was enrolled in a masters program in architecture at UC Berkeley and today is an award-winning planning and design principal at the architectural firm Page in San Francisco.

In her four-decade-long career, Maloney, who lives in Sausalito, has done master plan and design work for Carnegie Mellon University; Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia; UC San Francisco and UC Merced, among others. She also has done urban design and community planning projects in cities across the country. Currently, Maloney is part of the Long Range Development Plan process as UC Santa Cruz prepares for its future.

“It’s all about putting the pieces together and problem solving,” Maloney said of her career.

An only child who was something of a bookworm, Maloney also had a competitive side. She played golf in junior high and high school and was good enough to consider playing in college but she decided to come to Santa Cruz instead.

“What stood out for me about Barbara,” said Gregg Herken (Stevenson, ’69, history and politics) who met Maloney at UC Santa Cruz, “was that she was somebody people could confide in. She was a good listener and had interesting things to say.”

Those traits have come in handy for Maloney whose job requires her to listen to opinions, gather information on everything from energy and water issues to geology, and come up with creative solutions to any number of problems.

“Barbara is bright and she works hard and she also can see the viewpoint of other people without being threatened by it,” said Herken, a retired university history professor who is a longtime friend of Maloney. “She’s level headed and doesn’t panic easily.”

Like the time a bear invaded the campsite where she was staying with friends in Yosemite and stole all their food.

“She didn’t get overwrought,” Herken says.

Maloney, who helped in the planning process for the brand-new UC Merced, said working in higher education is “endlessly interesting,” involving not only issues like sustainability and town-gown relations but also transportation and new ways of learning.

For instance, instead of studying alone in the corner of a library, today’s students are more likely to learn in collaboration with one another which means locating and planning for study lounges, she said.

“To help colleges and universities figure out how to maintain and grow, or expand or even rework the campuses without growth? What better cause could you be working for?” Maloney said.

With close ties to the early years of UC Santa Cruz, when the campus and its system of separate colleges were touted as an unconventional place that pushed against the stodginess of educational institutions, Maloney said she is particularly interested in what role the colleges will continue to play in academic life on the hilltop campus.

Her ties with UC Santa Cruz extend into her personal life as well.

She and three male college friends have stayed in touch over the years and now meet and travel regularly. Calling themselves “The Chillers” after the 1983 comedy about college friends who meet for a weekend retreat after a funeral, “The Big Chill,” the alumni and their spouses have traveled together to Cuba, Mexico, the Napa Valley and will often rent a house together for a long weekend on Tomales Bay.

“Everyone has interesting careers,” Maloney says. “They’re all really smart. We like politics, and food, and wine, and we like to cook. There’s never a dull moment.”