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Unveiled: Pauley Pavilion
NBBJ to overhaul UCLA's famed modernist arena
Courtesy NBBJ

UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, a utilitarian design created by modernist architect Welton Becket in 1965, is one of the most beloved buildings on a beautiful campus, and one of the most famous sports arenas in the world. A good reason why: a look at the banners in its rafters reveals that Bruin teams have won over 40 national titles while playing there, including ten in basketball alone.

Yet while once ahead of its time, the pavilion has become seriously outdated, with an aging infrastructure, too few fan amenities, and team facilities that pale in comparison to those of many other major universities.

Yesterday, NBBJ’s LA office unveiled Pauley’s long-rumored redesign, set to augment and update Becket’s work more than forty years later. Scheduled to be finished by fall 2012, the project presents a careful balance between celebrating history and looking forward. 

“We wanted to keep its character intact and respect it while improving it and giving it a modern face,” said NBBJ principal Scott Hunter.

Outside, the firm will add a new facade projecting from the arena’s concrete shell, consisting of a folded combination of steel, terra cotta, clear glass, and channel glass (the facade was originally going to be brick, to match the campus’ material palette, but officials later rejected that as too clashing with the arena itself and inconsistent with the goals of a modernization). Its main entrance, marked by an expanse of glass and a large new plaza, will be located to the north. A smaller entrance and plaza will be located to the southeast. The design, said Hunter, is inspired by the arena’s existing V-truss roof structure, whose now-iconic members will remain intact up above. Echoes of those trusses will be visible through the transparent sections of the facade.

Between the facade and the original shell, the expanded arena will have about 30,000 square feet of new concourse space, including three times as many toilets (a mention that got loud applause at the press conference) and about 25 more concession stands.

The firm plans to gut the arena’s existing interior spaces, adding new mechanical and electrical systems. To preserve Pauley’s feel, the seating bowl will remain intact, but sightlines and circulation will be improved, and the team will add about 1,000 new seats (all seats in the stadium will be refurbished, and many will be moved closer to the competition areas), and 25,000 square feet of underground space, which will include new locker rooms, film rooms, player lounges, offices, a weight room, and event rooms.

The project will cost $185 million, about $85 million of which will come from UCLA, and about $100 million of which will come from a private fundraising campaign. That campaign has thus far taken in about $50 million. The arena will remain open for much of the renovation, with the exception of the 2011-2012 season, when teams will play elsewhere.

The arena's trademark trusses will remain visible above the seating bowl.
Courtesy NBBJ
Sam Lubell