The Tricky Renovation at UCLA's Saxon Suites
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Tearing down an existing building, working with uncompacted soil, and honoring deals made back in the '60s regarding density created a challenging project for UCLA’s redevelopment of its Saxon Suites on the northwest campus. San Diego-based Studio E Architects job captain Lauren Pasion, associate Mathilda Bialk and principal Eric Naslund (pictured) took on the almost $23M project, which should be ready for students this fall. Mathilda says UCLA leaders wanted to revamp the 30-year-old three-story buildings (with 384 beds) to offer more housing options for students.
The space was updated with new fixtures, finishes and infrastructure upgrades. There’s a new central commons building, designed to be a hub for students with space for socializing, studying and the more mundane like laundry. There are also multiple courtyards between buildings and new patios, too. Mathilda says the communal spaces were a big focus, so students could feel a sense of connection. One cool feature, Mathilda tells us, is a conversation pit designed by Spurlock Poirier Landscape Architects. It’s the answer to having a fire pit with no fire, she says. It’s still a gathering point, but around an LED-lit table.
Eric says the original plan was to add more beds, but there wasn't enough space on the site because of challenges with the soil. Instead, the design includes a bridging building that cantilevers over the bad soil. All of the units are suite-style with two bedrooms with a living area and shared bathroom for up to six students. Eric says the team was just hired by UC-Davis to look at a long-range development plan and how to deal with housing. When they’re not working, you can find Eric and Mathilda taking advantage of the sunny California weather. Eric likes to kayak, paddleboard and play golf. Mathilda likes to go to the beach and relax with some yoga.