From Competition to Practice: The Case Study of UCLA’S Green Hall


From conception to implementation, architectural designs change over time, but the process of that change often goes unseen. SOM Design Director Javier Arizmendi will reveal how and why designs may evolve, in a lecture that will highlight the case study of Geffen Hall—UCLA’s new teaching and learning facility for the David Geffen School of Medicine. He will show how SOM’s initial winning competition design was transformed through the multidisciplinary design firm’s collaborative process together with the university and their stakeholders.

4 thoughts on “From Competition to Practice: The Case Study of UCLA’S Green Hall

  1. Javier Arizmendi’s presentation was a good example of how a winning concept can change dramatically once more “practical” issues are taken into consideration. Though the open air circulation was kept, it is really a shame that the big public stair not carried out into the final design. The question of what is “public space” is not so cut and dry. Who is the public? Does the “public realm” exclude the homeless? Should the term “public space” be redefined for every project? It seems to be a challenge that is not easily resolvable.

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  2. IThe original winning design of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA focused greatly in access, the team put a lot of effort in trying to understand access by studying pedestrian paths, surrounding areas and features adjacent to the site. It’s unfortunate that the concept of creating an open “public” stair was not realized, but it is important to have this initial concept in mind. Like Javier Arizmendi said: it is very important to have a vision in the design, even though that vision might go through many iterations. With this original concept, the team was able to come up with a solution to solve the tension that evolved along with practical issues. When vision meets practicality, a lot of times the designers have to take away parts from the vision, but what’s important is not to stand firm of the original design, but come up with ways to resolve the problems and to create a “win-win” solution.

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  3. It is exciting to see how a project evolves from a conceptual competition all the way to construction. The initial concept of having a grand entry stair leading to the campus looks very appealing, and I am happy to see that the designers in SOM are really trying hard in their design to define what is public and how should the public realm look like. Unfortunately, this will always raise many concerns by different interest groups. For me, the biggest takeaway is that, although there are various parties with different points of view, as a designer, we always need to keep in mind of the initial concept and not get carried too far from those real world practical issues.


  4. This lecture was by far one of my favorite ones. I felt like I could relate to it the most since I am from Los Angeles and have been to UCLA many times and absolutely love that area so it was very interesting to hear about the idea of expending and improving that space. It was interesting to hear the step by step design process and see how it was improved from the first version of it to the final one. I was thankful for a very useful in real life suggestion which was to listen to what your clients want, but at the same time fight for your own beliefs if you truly think that they are worth fighting for. Lastly I loved that even though the building is not in the middle of the campus the designers made sure to make that space feel inclusive and connect it to the campus by building pathways all around it.

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