30 Years of Scripps College Campus Stewardship

Claremont, California

Scripps College was first designed in 1927—a jewel of a California Mission– style institution in a small-town setting. Then the middle of the 20th Century delivered punishing blows through “thirty years of abandonment, thoughtless and contrary design that undermined the essential qualities and character of this campus.” Now, after three decades of careful nurturing using principles of the Charter, the former glory is restored in a modern re-imagining of the college that includes new buildings, walkways, and landscapes that amplify a sense of place.

The first phase, 1982 to 1994, stabilized the campus through discreet, small projects—mostly restorations and additions to existing facilities and gardens. The second phase through 2010 guided the design of new buildings and landscapes through a new campus plan.

Scripps College Claremont overview
An overview of the Scripps College master plan. Source: Moule & Polyzoides, Architects and Urbanists.

“At the end of this period, there was enough confidence gained through 20 years of piecing the campus together that the Pool & Field House project was carried out at a level of programmatic ambition and physical quality matching the work of the 1920s.”

The third phase, which began in 2010, will complete the campus based on lessons learned in the last quarter century. “A campus’s value as an educational asset is significantly affected by its success as a place,” the designers at Moule & Polyzoides learned.

Also, the layout and architecture of an institution has a powerful impact on the people who use it. “Valued rituals of campus life closely connect to a rich existing fabric of pedestrian gathering spaces and routes which connect to the surrounding community,” the designers explain.

Scripps College Claremont aerial
The layout provides a strong sense of place for the college. Source: Moule & Polyzoides, Architects and Urbanists.

When it comes to place, culture is closely related to sustainability. Among the lasting contributions of the stewardship project is the successful long-term engagement of campus leaders.

“Scripps College is clearly a well-loved place, and this must be in large part because of the care and craft that have been lavished over it over 30 years by its master planners,” says Hank Dittmar, a Charter Awards jury member. “The results argue strongly for continuity in campus planning and architecture, rather than following the latest design trends in a slavish manner.”

Top photo: New construction is inspired by the historic buildings of the campus. Source: Moule & Polyzoides, Architects and Urbanists.

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