UC San Diego: A vision for East Village

Posted: December 1st, 2017 | Columnists, East Village News, Featured | 1 Comment

By Joan Wojcik | East Village News

A new, yet unnamed, project is destined to have a lasting impact on Downtown San Diego. This project is the University of California San Diego’s new facility to be located in the heart of East Village.

UC San Diego always envisioned having a Downtown presence; however, the lack of public transportation along the Interstate 5 corridor connecting Downtown to La Jolla prevented this laudable ambition to remain no more than a hopeful wish, until recently.

Artist rendering of the trolley stop at the new UC San Diego facility (background) and its adjoining amphitheater (middle), scheduled to open in East Village in 2021. (Courtesy CarrierJohnson + Culture)

In the fall of 2016, construction began to extend Metropolitan Transit System’s blue line trolley along the I-5 corridor, ultimately fulfilling the vision of connecting the La Jolla campus to the urban environment of Downtown San Diego.

Jennifer Davies, assistant dean of external affairs at UC San Diego, stated that the university believes this important trolley connection to Downtown will promote a global civic awareness for its academic population, centered around the new facility located at the corner of Market Street and Park Boulevard.

Map showing the blue trolley line extension from Downtown to UC San Diego (Courtesy SANDAG)

The trolley will serve as a gateway, providing a convenient and relaxing mode of transportation between Downtown and the UC San Diego campus.

Pepper Canyon and Voight Drive will be the two trolley stops located on UC’s La Jolla campus. The main stop, at the Pepper Canyon location, will act as the welcoming station for Downtown visitors to the UC campus.

Visitors will be able to participate in the many events held at the campus; such as, attending plays at the famous La Jolla Playhouse; listening to renowned speakers; visiting art exhibits; and being exposed to a variety of noteworthy programs.

While Downtown visitors are able to enjoy the La Jolla campus environment, the new Market Street extension facility of UC San Diego will become an integral part of the Downtown community.

The new four-story building, which is expected to open in the fall of 2021, will consist of 66,000 square feet, including a shared amphitheater with an adjacent high-rise apartment building.

Each of its four floors will have distinct, designated uses.

The main floor will showcase and define the building, with its extensive use of glass windows, a stunning spiral staircase leading up to the second level, and an inviting restaurant open to the community.

The second floor will incorporate the concept of a flexible learning environment, to enhance collaborative thinking and provide a variety of learning opportunities. This versatile space is expected to include a talent accelerator, which will help teach and educate the expertise needed for San Diego’s growing innovation economy. Programming could include workshops presented by campus groups, business groups, art groups and local community groups with a major focus on high technology and entrepreneurial resources.

The focal point of the top two floors is taking shape with current plans to use the space to house faculty and students, enabling them to better interact with the Downtown community. In the past, UC San Diego has worked closely with members of the Downtown neighborhoods on projects specifically related to Downtown. These joint discussions will continue to take place on these top office floors.

Artist rendering of the spacious first floor of the future UC San Diego facility (Courtesy CarrierJohnson + Culture)

One of the core recurring events to be included at the facility will be seminars, which will be open to the general public.

According to Daniel Atkinson, director of public programs, UC San Diego Extension, the university intends to incorporate a variety of exciting academic seminars for the enjoyment of the Downtown community.

The popular Sally Ride STEAM seminars — short for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math — will be among the distinguished seminars scheduled for the Downtown campus.

In addition, plans exist to bring the very popular UC Helen Edison lecture series Downtown, where local residents will be able to enjoy listening to distinguished lecturers discussing thought-provoking issues in their presentations.

Two notable lecturers on prior Helen Edison circuits include actor John Lithgow and journalist Bob Woodward, who spoke about his latest book based on Alexander Butterfield, a San Diegan who served in the Nixon administration and uttered the notorious famous words, “the tapes” during the Watergate hearings.

Another exciting aspect of having a UC presence Downtown will be the inclusion of local high school students at the facility. Students will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of pre-college programs — including test preparation and courses for college credit — at a world-class university.

Finally, if you are a lover of art exhibits, concerts and the performing arts, UC San Diego is going to make arts and culture a central focus of the Downtown facility. The beautiful amphitheater, just adjacent to the facility, will be utilized throughout the year for performing arts presentations.

Although the wait will be long — three more years — the anticipation and excitement is strong within the Downtown community, especially in East Village, the neighborhood it will be calling home.

This impressive building will become a centerpiece for education, ideas, and culture in East Village. The facility’s name, which will be chosen at a later date, will represent an outstanding East Village addition, by an outstanding university, in an outstanding city.

Welcome UC San Diego to East Village.

— Joan Wojcik is the president of the East Village Residents Group. Contact Joan at or visit

One Comments

  1. Clearly a move up for UC San Diego. They would also benefit from having a solid outreach program to out of state students. Extra funding for the research in economics and computer science will help put the school on the national radar.

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