When the University of California at Los Angeles was looking for an experiential solution to bring their Alums closer to the action on campus, we were honored to be invited to be part of the inspiration. The challenge was transforming the James West Center into an inviting experience that still felt like UCLA.
In collaboration with Wick+Land Architects, SottoStudios first studied the rich history of UCLA and the unique stories they have to tell through the success of so many Alumni. Sharing this valued experience with a student is like opening a new door, causing students share their insights with the Alums and inspiring them. Alumni are living proof of what hard work and applied knowledge can do. We felt, as did the faculty, that creating a place to connect and openly share insights was job one.
These are a few selected inspirational slides taken from hundreds over several presentations.
Our proposal was to transform the "walled fortress" of an administration building into a series of more open and experiential social spaces with "doorways" and "portals" as the theme. The bronze backlit doors can be open and closed depending on events being public or private, allowing for the center to do fundraisers of varying sizes. We also created Bruin lanterns that can be purchased and hung in honor of each donor, one for your home and the other for the center. The large cylindrical AC tower was transformed into "the inspiration well" a water driven audio sculpture where you can leave an inspirational quote and hear one echo back to you! These are merely preliminary renderings to schematically explain the concept internally as in later phases we would become more specific. We began by finding the emotional "Wow," which was connecting the student with the Alum, and worked backwards into social spaces to deliver that.