When my father was a student there, UC Davis was the state's premier agricultural institution, but it was nowhere near the monstrosity that it is now. I set a reasonable goal of finding some of the original structures and comparing them to the architecture that was added throughout the years.
Here, we have a look at the "Deathstar" building, which represents the latest in architectural nonsense. This shoebox of a wonder cannot be viewed all at one time, so each perspective gives a completely different memory of the beast.
Dubbed "The Deathstar" this silvery, metal clad wonder is the Social Sciences and Humanities Building. Students who have indulged in too much weekend and late night social science have been known to get up on the roof of that structure and do things that no sober person would do.
The design leads to thoughts of advanced bio engineering feats such as the creation of monkey-pig-bird people when that is not the case.
The last time I went to an Aggie picnic day, I went with my Dentist brother who could not get enough of science. A preserved dead body was a most popular exhibit, but not with me.
I had to call it quits and look at something else. That something else happened to be the Deathstar building, and that is how I came to admire yet fear and loathe that place, even though I have a degree in Sociology.
I went to Cal, which is not known for indulging in design or structural Frankenscience.
Still, UC Davis holds a special place in my heart, my childhood, and my future, and I will always be drawn to that place.
My earliest memories are of bicycles and Cal Aggie Days. Bikes and animals and odd smelling buildings. To a child, that was the fundamental nature of academia.
This is just one of a hundred spots around campus where bikes are parked in masses so large that the viewer cannot see the end of the two wheeled vehicles.
From its beginnings, the UC Davis campus was famous for bicycles as the main form of transportation. The tradition has never waned, and will continue for as long as the campus exists.
And of course, technology will find a way to make tradition evolve!
Time brings change.
The Silo: An Original Structure
This is "The Silo", one of the oldest original buildings at UC Davis. It was once a working silo that was used to store feed for the animals who were so important to the school and to the region.
Now The Silo is a campus center with restaurants and shops.
The Cross Cultural Center is another of the original campus structures. This empty building was briefly occupied by the UC Davis occupation protesters two days after this photo was taken.
The Cross Cultural Center
George Hart Hall
Peter J. Shields Library
The Peter J. Shields Library is a whimsical and comprehensive display of 1940's era art deco style. After the UC Berkeley Campus became an architectural rock star, Shields lobbied heavily to make UC Davis the first satellite campus in the University of California system, so he deserves the honor. Note the "Egghead" sculpture in the foreground of the Library photo. Sculptor Robert Arneson created five of these.
The Egghead Sculptures
"Stargazer" is on the left. "Bookhead" is on the right. The campus hosted eight of these ceramic delights. Word is that one was damaged, but where are the others?
The Death Star
Sinister look. Benign social sciences function. Architecture that cannot be viewed from a single location. A mistake? An icon? A place where you have your meals so you do not have to look at it? No answers here. I went to CAL.
No one should go to UC Davis without learning of the famous Murder Burger hamburger shack. Murder Burger was a Davis institution for decades, but during the late 1990s, a murder victim's relative demanded that the name be changed. The idea took hold because the name gave added trauma to those who had suffered from the region's healthy murder rate. .
In the end, it was a wonderful experience to recall the architecture of my father's old school and then recall the wonders of a well made burger and fries meal.