‘Real World’ Pays Off in Contest

Sam Hall Kaplan is traveling in Europe on a National Endowment of the Arts grant

At a time when design competitions are commonplace, it is unusual to find one as meritorious as the recently held Rancho Cucamonga Civic Center Corporate Plaza student competition, sponsored by Barton Development Co. and the California Council of Architectural Education. A team from UCLA’s Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design emerged as the clear winner.

The unique aspect of this competition was the emphasis on simulating a “real” world experience for the students, and the jury members selected from the business community as well as the design disciplines.

Supporting this business approach, developer James Barton explained, “A developer needs more than an attractive facade. Building space must be attractive to major tenants but it cannot be cost prohibitive to build. Having jury members from financial and real estate ranks helped to determine the realistic feasibility of the various design solutions.”

Architect and educator Richard Chylinski served as professional adviser for the competition and aided in the selection of the jury, which was composed of Barton, president, Barton Development Co.; Daniel Lee Stephenson, general partner, Rancon Realty Fund III; Eugene Wood, vice president and manager, Security Pacific National Bank; Dennis Stout, Planning Commission chairman, city of Rancho Cucamonga.


Also, Warren Thompson, president of the California Council, American Institute of Architects, and Thompson Architectural Group; George Anselevicius, president of the Associated Collegiate Schools of Architecture and dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, University of New Mexico; George Hasslein, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and Sam Hall Kaplan, Times’ design critic.

Barton Development invited four student teams from the highly regarded and widely recognized architectural schools of UCLA and Cal Poly Pomona (with each school entering two separate teams), to design a corporate complex on a 40-acre parcel owned jointly by James Barton and Rancon Realty Fund III. This site is within a larger office/industrial/high-technology development in the heart of Rancho Cucamonga.

Thompson, reflecting the jury’s unanimous selection, stated “The winning entry was head and shoulders above the others. It best met the competition criteria, showing sensitivity to the community by creating a beautiful environment while demonstrating a practical solution to the demands of the marketplace.”

The winning UCLA team approached the design of the commercial complex as if creating a new town, thereby considering a myriad of urban planning issues, such as allocation of public and private space, car and pedestrian access and circulation, height limits, views and visual imagery. The key design elements are a raised central plaza and linear circulation spine connecting most buildings on site.


The plaza, intended as the center of activity, is partially defined by two mid-rise office buildings, the higher one serving as the project’s focal point. Radiating from the spine to the site’s borders are a series of low-rise offices, with elevations that step back, thus taking advantage of topography, view, sun control and minimizing the visual impact of the huge complex.

To strengthen the sense of place, the design has included an amphitheater on the plaza, small gardens, pavilions, sculpture and outdoor artwork, trellis-covered walkways and a lake.

Dennis Stout, Rancho Cucamonga Planning Commission chairman, said he was “impressed by the concept because it fits what the city is trying to encourage in all new developments.”

The UCLA winners were supervised by faculty advisers Rex Lotery and Marty Borko, and consultant to the student team was Farhad Ashofteh. Members of the design team were AliReza Badie, Sara Harison, Ensieh Tasdighi and Mina Vejeh. Student collaborators were Masoud Safa, Dona Solish, Foad Farahmand, Doug Robertson, Mehrdad Dabbagh, Mino Zaribaf, Mohammed Zaribaf, Sarvin Ashkan and Edward Fu Lin.


Each participating school received a $6,000 project fee to cover costs, and UCLA received an additional $5,000 as the winner.

“We are very excited by the competition process,” summed-up Barton. “And we’d like to have more of them, perhaps on an annual basis.”

Edward Helfeld, former administrator of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, has joined Kaufman & Broad Inc., as president and chief executive officer of a new subsidiary that will focus on real estate development. He will explore a broad range of commercial opportunities, including public/private partnerships in redevelopment, retail, and industrial projects.

As a city planner, landscape architect and city administrator, Helfeld brings an unusual background and experience to the traditional developer’s role. In doing so, Helfeld states, “I intend to strive for quality in my work in the private sector, just as I had committed myself to quality in the public sector. While in my public role, I always respected those developers who were able to achieve some quality in spite of all the problems; now, I can have no excuses!”


A new pilot program intended to heighten student awareness of the environments that shape their daily lives is being tested in various elementary schools in California. The Built Environment Education Program (BEEP) is not only the latest attempt in design-related education projects explored over the last 20 years, but it is also part of the broader, ongoing public awareness efforts of the California Council, American Institute of Architects.

This program integrates design lessons with required studies. Each of the schools participating in the pilot program chose its own design topic. For example, a fifth-grade class at Lewis Avenue Elementary School in Atascadero redesigned that city’s zoo. The class began by studying the relationship of man and animals to their environment, and later studied the site of the existing zoo.

The final result was a scale model of their new zoo design, which was presented to a group of community and business leaders, including the zoo curator. Teacher Kathy Stewart explained that the project showed the students how “they can work within the community to make it what they want it to be.”

A teachers’ institute, scheduled June 23-26 at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, will train classroom teachers how to implement BEEP at their own schools. Any interested teacher or architect is eligible to attend, but space is limited to the first 30 teacher applicants. Applications or more information for the tuition-free program may be obtained from Aleta Knudson, California Council, the American Institute of Architects, 1303 J. Street, Suite 200, Sacramento 958l4, or call (916) 448-9082. Requests for information should be made by Monday.