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Summer 2020 

We are pleased to present our summer 2020 issue of evolution, a seasonal journal. This issue offers reflections on our deep commitment to community participation in the design of public space, followed by POSTINGS: a clipboard of recent engagements of our office.


© William Franco Espinosa

Santa Monica Pier: A Public Space for Community Engagement of all Kinds

Creating and maintaining vibrant public spaces is critical to the health of our democracy and requires continuous participation and vigilance. As the current urgencies of public health, social justice and economic equity intersect in civic life and discourse, the locations for dialogue, both physical and virtual, become ever more important. Even as the global network of electronic communication expands exponentially, our need to connect in physical space remains a primal drive. Our public spaces endure through cycles of regression and renewal.

For millennia public space has been framed and constructed at the intersection of political, economic, and social life. It has, inevitably, been the physical manifestation of the forces and hierarchies of the society. As such, it has come with powerful cultural valence and an array of opportunities and constraints. From the time when hunter gatherer societies began their first tentative steps toward settlement, some ten thousand years ago, the shaping of the public realm has been a protean process of contestation and creation.

From the Greek Agora, to the Roman Forum, through contemporary plazas, squares and streets, public spaces have framed the spectrum of human behavior from inspiration to domination. In our own lives we have witnessed a broad range of initiatives; spanning from the destructive impositions of much mid-century “urban renewal”, to environmentally responsive renewal of parks, rivers and streets.

At this moment, issues of social equity, environmental stewardship, health and wellness are coming into high relief as urgent and existential questions.

Participatory Planning

The urgency of the current context reminds us of the creative turmoil of an earlier time. The social upheavals of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s aroused architects and planners to find new ways of engaging broader communities in the planning of their own environments. We were inspired by pioneers in Participatory Planning such as Lawrence Halprin, Jim Burns and our mentor Charles Moore. A belief that everyday citizens should participate actively and creatively in claiming and designing their own environments was, at that time, considered unseemly by many in the design professions. They were in thrall to what Robert Venturi called the Heroic and Original approach to architecture. Architects often styled themselves as hero-artists who could, by dint of training and innate talent, know best what kinds of buildings and places people needed. Yet, others sought to listen and learn from their communities and clients, making them collaborators in the creative process.

Renewed Commitment to Listening and Understanding

This time of challenges can become a point of inflection where we develop ever more effective ways of broadly engaging our communities. The complexity of this time requires more dialogue than ever, with more constituents at the table and a renewed commitment to listening to and understanding each other. The need to re-imagine public space poses questions at every scale:

  • How can we occupy our streets and take them back from the tyranny of the car for the benefit of walking, cycling, and socializing?
  • Can the great boulevards of Los Angeles and other cities become “complete streets” that serve everyone as corridors of public life and as sustainable restorative landscapes?
  • How can we assure that all neighborhoods have generous, safe and inspiring parks?
  • How can we make sure that our libraries, schools and community centers are serving the widest possible populations in the most accessible ways?

Santa Monica: a Commitment to Participation

At Moore Ruble Yudell we have been fortunate that our professional commitment to Participatory Planning has aligned with the prevailing civic policy of Santa Monica, our home base. For forty years we have been able to collaborate with our local community on a diverse series of civic designs. In this moment of both reflection on past work and speculation on the future, we draw memories and lessons from a series of public realm projects in our city. All of these projects were based on a commitment to engaging, understanding and responding to a diverse range of community concerns. Through a participatory design process, the community came to feel ownership and support of shared goals. Looking back, we can glean lessons that can support us moving forward.

Infrastructure Serves the Community Postcard View, Santa Monica Beach, by Sharon Mollerus CC BY 2.0

Santa Monica Beach Promenade: 1979-1983
Community workshops were the vehicle for understanding the many ways that the design of pedestrian and bicycle promenades, parking, lighting, restrooms and signage were essential elements to the neighborhoods’ understanding of their identity and ownership. The armature for this civic infrastructure has maintained its importance to the community unabated for nearly forty years, because the concerns and creativity of the community is embedded in the design. (with Susan Cloke and Campbell and Campbell)

Expanding Community Uses of a Historic Treasure Santa Monica Pier Restoration and Carousel Park, 1981-1986
The community was central to programming new uses (playground, volleyball stadium, accessibility, public art, and gallery) into the restoration of the historic 1909 Santa Monica Pier. This has ensured that since 1986 the Pier has been a civic place treasured by neighbors as well visitors from across the globe. (with Campbell and Campbell)

Creating a Sustainable Living Room for the City ©John Edward Linden

Santa Monica Public Library, 2005
The vision of the new main public library as a living room for the city, a garden for the community and an exemplar of sustainability has supported its vitality as a diverse and dynamic center of civic culture and life.

Re-imagining Parking in Support of Civic Values ©John Edward Linden

Santa Monica Civic Center Parking Structure, 2006
Community concerns led to designing this as the first solar powered and first LEED certified parking structure in the country, with ground floor city offices to activate the street.

Bringing Dignity to Affordable Housing ©John Edward Linden

2802 Pico Housing, 2013
The City of Santa Monica and the non-profit Community Corps Housing have long been leaders in providing and designing affordable housing with dignity, comfort and sustainability. Those values and community engagement have enhanced a project which brings design excellence and social equity to affordable housing.

Mandating Public Values in the Public-Private Partnership ©John Edward Linden

The Village, Ocean Avenue, 2014
Managing a public-private partnership to benefit the values of the city is a daunting process. Santa Monica structured its RFP to mandate that private developers provide 50% of all housing units as affordable, design them with dignity equal to the market rate units, and provide active street uses and accessible pedestrian and park spaces. The civic success of the public realm has demonstrated that a development project can be structured to serve the needs of a diverse community. (with Konig Eisenberg, Studio-MLA, Related California)

Integrating Health and Wellness into the Urban Fabric Providence St. John’s Health Center South Campus Master Plan, 2016-2020
This planning vision expands the existing Santa Monica medical campus with health and wellness programs that serve the entire community. A network of public serving spaces extend the pedestrian fabric of the neighborhood with parks, plazas, and a “living street”. Extensive grassroots participation was critical to creating an implementable and sustainable vision. (with Perkins Eastman and Pamela Burton)

Designing Resilient Community Schools Santa Monica High School, Discovery Building, Under construction 2020
An enlightened public client can set high community and pedagogic standards within the constraints of lean budgets and ambitious schedules. The Discovery Building re-imagines the learning environment using principles of “Open Building” to ensure a highly flexible and resilient district of the SAMOHI campus. An innovative prefabricated modular structural system supports spatial and programmatic flexibility. The project will serve the high school for decades, bringing value and longevity to the civic investment. (with HED)

Moving Forward as Partners

Looking forward, we feel that broad and deep engagement and dialogue with our communities is critical to the successful representation of evolving civic values.

Respecting our neighbors and communities as creative partners, listening with care and maintaining a robust dialogue will all contribute to a more vibrant civic life. With these commitments, our public spaces will reflect and respect our communities and reward us all with meaning and resilience.

Buzz Yudell, FAIA
July 2020


University of Denver Community Commons

The Community Commons is shaped to create multiple scales of connectivity along tiered paths that evoke the canyons of regional landscapes. Spaces are designed to encourage interaction and welcome a diverse student community.

This building, in combination with the new First Year Residence Hall, is a major step in realizing the aspirations of DU Impact 2025 led by former Chancellor Rebecca Chopp. The Community Commons is scheduled to open early 2021.

Design Architect: Moore Ruble Yudell
Executive Architect: Anderson Mason Dale Architects

PLACE OF LEARNING = PLACE OF COMMUNITY Santa Monica High School Discovery Building

The Discovery Building is a major addition to the 3000+ student campus. This multi-function building provides 260,000 square feet of learning space that wraps around an open entry court with cascading stairs and bleachers for informal gathering and planned events. Major components of the building promote community use and engagement including an open-air Aquatic Center, Dining, Assembly Hall, and smaller multi-use Commons that allow off-hours public use.

Education is constantly changing and the Discovery Building is designed for change. Designed as a ‘loft’ building with a flexible, open, column grid, raised floor for building systems and non-load bearing walls enables spaces to be reconfigured over time.

Co-Design Architect: Moore Ruble Yudell
Architect of Record/ Co-Design Architect: HED Architects


Take a VIRTUAL TOUR through Thunderbird’s new Global Headquarters and celebrate the legacy of the school and its rich future. Learning environments with active and multi-dimensional technologies will fully immerse students in each discipline. The new headquarters will enable students to connect with the world physically and virtually with shared real time experiences.

Virtual Tour by Point in Time Studios

Co-Design Architect: Moore Ruble Yudell
Architect of Record/ Co-Design Architect: Jones Studio

Watch virtual tour here

Asia School of Business/MIT SLOAN

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The new ASB/MIT SLOAN SCHOOL will be a regional and global hub to develop the next generation leaders in rapidly transforming Southeast Asia. Immersive Action Learning, cross-disciplinary collaboration, digital and cultural leadership will be synthesized to solve local and global problems. Passive design and environmental simulations optimize sustainability. The roof of the atrium (shown here) is designed for sun-control, daylighting and natural convection in this tropical climate. Its geometry, inspired by Malaysian Songket textiles, is digitally reinterpreted through parametric design and CNC manufacturing. Construction complete Fall 2020.

Design Architect: Moore Ruble Yudell
Executive Architect: GDP Architects

A NEW CENTER OF CAMPUS CONNECTIVITY Architecture and Design Academy
Wenzhou Kean University, China

The new Architecture and Design Academy at Wenzhou Kean University is back in construction. As the face of the new campus, Moore Ruble Yudell’s design addresses the grand scale of its large quad and even larger mountain context with a landmark portico poised in front of the program elements of the Academy. Two-story loft buildings form the base for the sculpted upper level design studios. As master-planned by Michael Graves, the Academy houses the largest shared gathering space on campus- a tiered 5-story atrium with Amphitheater seating for 1000. Major events, such as a speech by a world-renowned economist, will take place in this new home for architecture and design. Our Shanghai office leads construction administration with completion expected in the Fall of 2020.




Carissa Oyedele, AIA, Associate Principal shared her strategies of how she integrates her multiple roles as architect, firm leader, professional leader, mentor, wife, and mother to a toddler during COVID 19. AWA+D hosted this inspiring Virtual Symposium featuring Carissa and Sara Abed, Landscape Designer and Activist on June 30th.

Learn more here


As part of the upcoming SCUP 2020 Virtual Annual Conference, Mario Violich, FAIA ASLA will join a panel of leaders in higher education on the topic of serving under-represented student populations. The panel will address the unprecedented challenges we face in public health and social equity and how they are being met with innovative physical planning tools and solutions for colleges and universities.

Friday, July 24 1:30-2:30 EST
Society for Campus and University Planning

Register here

The California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC)

James Mary O'Connor, FAIA will address "Planning For Change- Open Buildings: Resilience and Sustainable Planning in Green Buildings". Open Buildings advocates the creation of a resilient building stock capable of change and adaptation over time while facilitating decision making on multiple levels. In the context of schools and colleges, this means creating facilities that accommodate change as the communities around them evolve. This presentation and discussion explores how campus master planning and/or individual building design can prepare for the unknowns of the future.

Wednesday, July 8th 9:15-10:30 AM PST

Register here




The 2020 Jury of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects has elevated Mario Violich, FAIA & Neal Matsuno FAIA to its prestigious College of Fellows, an honor awarded to members whose leadership and excellence in the profession have made a significant contribution to architecture and society on a national level. The fellows were honored at a virtual ceremony on July 1st.


The East End Transformation at Washington University in St Louis (WUSTL) has received a 2020 Honor Award for Excellence in Planning from The Society for College and University Planning—SCUP’s highest annual award for planning. The project comprises six new high-performance buildings and shared landscape spaces and adaptable parking.

Moore Ruble Yudell, in association with Mackey Mitchell, participated in the district planning and designed Jubel Hall for the McKelvey School of Engineering.

The collaborative master-planning and design team included: WUSTL team lead by Henry Weber and James Kolker FAIA, Michael Vergason Landscape Architects, Kieran Timberlake Architects, BNIM, Perkins Eastman, Mackey Mitchell Architects, Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners

Washington University in St. Louis

ARCHITECT magazine’s February edition features Washington University’s East End Transformation. Our work included collaboration on a comprehensive Masterplan for the East End and the design of the new Jubel Hall (in association with Mackey Mitchell). The 80,000 square foot building houses the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Department of Mechanical Engineering & Material Sciences (MEMS). The building is designed to support a heightened level of interaction and to address societal needs in medicine, health, and the environment. The East End will encourage integration of study and research across the Arts and Sciences. Partner Buzz Yudell FAIA, was interviewed for this article.

Read the full article here

UC Berkeley Lower Sproul Redevelopment & Student Community Center

The Lower Sproul Redevelopment & Student Community Center at UC Berkeley is featured in the Chinese publication Architecture Technique. The article, co-authored by Buzz Yudell, FAIA, Mario Violich, FAIA, and Jeanne Chen, FAIA, examines the importance of cultural understanding for effective planning. Campuses are dynamic centers of community, expressing the values and tensions of their cultures.

Working in close partnership with student and campus leadership, the project transforms what had become a neglected mid-century modern complex into a dynamic hub for student life. Both new construction and adaptive reuse combine to create a multi-building center that celebrates the historic legacy of the site while modernizing its infrastructure into a flexible armature for the evolving needs of future generations of students.

Read the full article here


We are honored our Tepper Quad Project at Carnegie Mellon University has received broad recognition for design, sustainability, planning, craft and construction. Creative solutions meet high project aspirations and diverse campus needs. The desire for future flexibility informed the project’s pioneering use of an innovative concrete void slab system that reduces embodied energy by 30%. The project exemplifies our integrated design process with the Tepper School, CMU Leadership, PJ Dick Construction, and our Consultant Team including R3A Associate Architect, Sasaki Associates Landscape Architect, BuroHappold, SMEP Engineers & Sustainability, and HLB Lighting Design.

  • Green GOOD DESIGN Award Chicago Atheneum
  • AIA LA Cote Citation Award
  • AIA Pittsburgh Honor Award
  • Urban Land Institute Pittsburgh Placemaking Award for Transformative Place
  • Master Builder Association Building Excellence Award New Construction
  • Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Award
  • ENR Mid-Atlantic Best Project Award of Merit Higher Education/ Research
  • WAN Concrete in Architecture Finalist
  • Brick in Architecture Silver Award Higher Education


gb&d's "Designing the Best New Learning Facilities" by Cap Green features Moore Ruble Yudell’s Tepper Quad Project at Carnegie Mellon University. The article describes designing a high performance educational building to encourage connectivity and experiential learning.

Read the full article here


Our US Embassy for The Hague advances embassy sustainability as one of the first two US missions with geothermal heating and cooling, and a pilot project for low-level LED site lighting, making this high security new campus a good neighbor in a heritage context. Site design by Sasaki integrates the landscape with Holland’s regional canal system. Now featured in the online journal Office Inspiration, the building heightens the presence of its workforce community with a generous, open Commons for daily dining, social interaction, and embassy cultural events.

Read the full article here


We are delighted that Buzz Yudell, FAIA was included in this new book published by PHAIDON. Sarah Miller, long-standing Editor-in-Chief of the British edition of Condé Nast Traveler, describes the book as "an insider's guide to the best places to stay in the world- the result of having spoken with 270 architects around the world..." This book is a successor to the best-selling Where Chefs Eat.

Purchase Where Architects Sleep here





Built By Women Los Angeles 2020 Map and Poster showcases 57 projects that highlight important contributions, spanning over 100 years, by women in the LA metro area. Moore Ruble Yudell is honored to have two projects featured—the Santa Monica Public Library led during construction by Carissa Oyedele AIA and Rustic Canyon View House by Jeanne Chen FAIA and Bob Dolbinski AIA.

Click link to pre-order map

College of the Desert’s new Palm Springs Campus

We are developing an innovative new campus for the College with our partners at Pfeiffer Associates. Featuring dynamic partnerships with regional businesses, the community college campus programs include Hospitality, Culinary Arts, Architecture, and Technology-based trade tech instruction. Conceptual design of environmentally-responsive architecture sets the basis for the new campus, with dramatic visual connections to Palm Springs’ nearby mountain backdrop.


Working intensively with NOCCCD and our program experts at Brailsford and Dunlavey, we are simultaneously developing master plans for three campuses. Key issues include program complementarity between the campuses, sustainable mobility, resilient facilities and infrastructure, renewed landscape, way finding, and campus identity.



WLAC Heldman Learning Center Replacement Project

Moore Ruble Yudell is working closely with the LA Community College District leadership, users, and our Library Program Specialist Will Baty, to define a new center of activity and success along with sweeping re-planning of the academic core of West LA College’s 72 acre campus. With a dynamic fusion of Student Union, Learning Center, library, Multi-media Technology, and staff/faculty Excellence Center, the new Heldman Center program adds up to an engine of positive change for the progressive West campus.

Santa Monica High School Exploration Building and New Gold Gym

We are collaborating with HED and program specialist Amy Yurko from Brainspaces to develop a transformational new educational complex modeled on Capstone. With future-ready planning guided by Open Building principles, the school’s Phase 3 complex includes a major expansion of facilities for Dance, Athletics, and Visual Arts to advance the progressive vision of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

UC San Diego Humanities & Social Sciences Building Repair

Moore Ruble Yudell has been awarded the Humanities and Social Sciences Building Repair project at UC San Diego. The deteriorating pre-cast concrete façade of this historic Brutalist building will be replaced to extend the life of this important campus asset for the next 50 plus years. We are teamed with Architectural Resources Group— our historic architecture consultant.

Moore Ruble Yudell Website