Construction sites are my favorite part of attending UCI, as they are living proof that our campus is expanding to meet the needs of both current and future students.
The practicality of new buildings obviously plays a large role when deciding what to build on campus, and I feel that UCI has typically operated on the positive side of balancing useful and useless installations on campus.
Most of the developing projects, such as the Anteater Learning Pavilion (ALP) and the recently opened Biological Sciences Starbucks, have obvious utilities, ranging from expanding classroom space to giving students another way to caffeinate themselves before a midterm. These buildings provide students the learning environments they need to thrive while also updating the campus’ aesthetics, doubling down on making UCI even greater than it already is.
However, not all of the green fencing on campus is hiding the next best thing. Signs claiming that Zotwheels, a bikeshare program started and seemingly forgotten by Transportation and Distribution Services, will expand in Arroyo Vista and the bike park outside of Engineering Tower are questionable both in their promise and their execution. While new classrooms are a necessity for students, I don’t understand why funding would be allocated to expand a program that has hardly been maintained in its current state.
Although some are definitely more useful than others, I welcome all of the new projects UCI wants to construct as symbols that the campus is constantly improving. With more students applying and being admitted each year, UCI is growing rapidly, and the frequent construction reflects the need to update what already exists on campus.
The construction of Mesa Towers last year is a prime example of UCI meeting the need to expand. The Towers added more than 800 on-campus living spaces for incoming freshmen while also updating a housing community in need of a change. The Towers’ modern design and generally useful amenities took problems that the school had (a lack of freshmen housing and an underwhelming amount of resources in Mesa Court), created a temporary fix, and added some flair to update the physical appeal of the school at the same time. The ALP seems to be following the same path, and I am beyond excited to see what and where the next set of buildings will spring up on campus.
While some complain about the retro design of some older classroom buildings, I appreciate them for providing a benchmark of this progress, with their dated architecture drawing a clear timeline of the expansion UCI has experienced throughout the years. It doesn’t take an architectural genius to tell which buildings on Ring Road have been around since 1965 and which were made in more recent years, allowing students to see past efforts to expand and visualize future plans at the same time.
I also appreciate construction on campus for the legacy it will leave at UCI. Buildings like the Cross-Cultural Center and eSports Arena are amazing to me because they are the first of their kind to be built on a UC campus. UCI’s willingness to venture out beyond what its contemporaries are doing is one of the many reasons I love it, and I hope that this trend becomes even more prominent in the following years.
Learning to love construction sites is crucial while attending UCI, not only for the benefit of the current student population but for all future generations to pass through the school. The history of our school is right in front of us — soak it in before we’re not here to appreciate it anymore.
Isaac Espinosa is a second-year electrical engineering major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.