Kresge College Renewal at the University of California, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, CA

Under Construction

University of California, Santa Cruz

Educational, Master plan

200,000 sf (12 renovated buildings, 4 new construction buildings); 8-acre site

Targeting LEED Gold


Located in a sprawling redwood forest in northern California, Kresge College has been a bold experiment in student-driven education since 1971. Its original “hill town” campus by Charles Moore and William Turnbull created a bright, playful village within the forest, anchored by a winding pedestrian street, where students could test out new ways for living and learning in community. Today, as the College approaches fifty, Studio Gang’s renewal project aims to reinvigorate the Kresge campus as a vital, experimental environment for education—still independent-minded and free-spirited, but no longer so isolated and inward-facing.

Through a combination of renovation (12 buildings) and new construction (4 buildings) that builds on a master plan, the project restores the integrity and community spirit of the original design while simultaneously opening it up to embrace students of all abilities, the incredible natural ecology of its site, and the larger university community beyond.

At the campus scale, the project extends the original pedestrian street into a loop path. This includes incorporating accessible pathways and, at specific moments, turning the inward-facing street outward to connect with the surrounding forest and other portions of the university. Most of the original buildings and smaller structures like the well-loved Mayor’s Stand are left intact, but are renovated and updated to improve their durability and environmental performance.

Responding to the desire for sunshine in the heavily shaded campus, the renewal project creates several universally accessible plazas open to the sun

The project’s four new buildings do not replicate Moore and Turnbull’s architecture, but rather engage it in a dialogue that complements its rectilinear, angular language with a more organic one of curvature and porosity. All of the new buildings are sited and designed to minimize the removal of redwood trees by bending around important groves and nestling into the topography. At the north end of campus, a new academic building with lecture halls, classrooms, and workspaces negotiates its steep site by simultaneously stepping down the slope and flaring out—bringing fresh air, natural light, and views of the forested ravine into the interior. At the campus’ west side, a set of three new residential buildings accommodates Kresge’s growing student population. Bending and opening toward the forest, they preserve a scale of community similar to the original residence halls.

Aligning Kresge’s built structures to work with nature to reduce carbon footprint is a key component of the renewal project. The redwood canopy, for example, provides shade that reduces cooling loads, and abundant operable windows take advantage of the mild climate to further passive cooling and bring in natural ventilation. To minimize water demand, the design rehabilitates and expands Kresge’s historic runnel system, allowing circulation pathways to work with the site’s topography and ecology to direct, capture, and filter stormwater for reuse. The renewal project’s subtle changes to the original campus buildings, when combined with the newly-designed facilities and amenities, together add up to a significant improvement in environmental performance—as well as a greater appreciation for the original architecture and bold forays into the College’s current and future resilience.

With the College’s strong spirit of participatory democracy, gathering input from students was critical to creating a renewed campus. The process recalls that of Moore and Turnbull, who were early proponents of community participation in design.

Updating the original program mix of living, learning, and student support, the new design clusters similar uses to better align with the rhythms of campus life, support social cohesion, and provide a desired level of privacy for the residential spaces.

"The University team needed an architect who could sensitively restore, rebuild and reimagine—so they called Jeanne Gang. . . . At UCSC’s Kresge College, both the spirit and structure of postmodernism remain in Gang’s transformation."

Cultured Magazine


TEF Design, Associate Architect

Magnussen Klemencic Associates, Structural Engineer

Mesiti-Miller Engineering, Structural Engineer

Joni L. Janecki & Associates, Landscape Architect

Office of Cheryl Barton, Landscape Architect

Sherwood Design Engineers, Civil Engineer

Integral Group, MEP/FP Engineer

Atelier Ten, Sustainability Consultant

Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design, Lighting Designer

Salter, Acoustic Consultant

The Shalleck Collaborative, Theater Consultant

Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Envelope Consultant

Cheng+Snyder, Wayfinding and Graphics

Holmes Fire, Code Consultant

Directional Logic, Quantity Surveyor

Jensen Hughes, Accessibility Consultant

Elevator Consulting Associates, Elevator Consultant

TeeCom, Technology Consultant



Cultured Magazine — “Making History"

"Now, like many fifty-year-old structures, Kresge College needs a bit of a facelift, accessibility compliance and an expansion. Facing a myriad of design complications, the University team needed an architect who could sensitively restore, rebuild and reimagine—so they called Jeanne Gang."


SF Chronicle — “In Bay Area, Jeanne Gang’s architecture goes beyond head-turning towers”

SF Chronicle — “In Bay Area, Jeanne Gang’s architecture goes beyond head-turning towers”

"To understand why Jeanne Gang is a deeply important architect, not just a spinner of eye-catching forms, check out her four Bay Area projects. . . The eclectic mix of projects is a timely reminder that architecture should engage broader cultural needs."