17 May 2004


Haviland Hall seen from Observatory Hill
(photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

In its eagerness to accord a place of honor on campus to the Chang-Lin Tien Center for East Asian Studies, U.C. is ready to sacrifice existing cultural and natural resources. The cultural resource is Haviland Hall (John Galen Howard, 1924), listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The natural resource is Observatory Hill, a prime botanical spot and former home of the historic Students’ Observatory. While the Draft EIR for the 2020 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) documents these resources, it apparently finds nothing troubling about trivializing and overshadowing the former or destroying a major part of the latter.

To get an idea about what’s at stake, read Campus planning schizophrenia. Then take a virtual tour from the rear of Haviland Hall to the ruin of the Students’ Observatory at the crest of the Hill. Everything you’ll see on the way will be sacrificed for the Tien Center project.

Once upon a time, U.C. planned to site the Tien Center on the parking lot behind Dwinelle Hall. That plan was scuttled owing to “environmental” considerations. One wonders how a parking lot takes environmental precedence over a nature area. Since then, the university has apparently overcome its “environmental” qualms, since maps in its 2020 LRDP DEIR indicate an in-fill building on the Dwinelle parking lot. This begs the question: why can’t that in-fill building be the Tien Center? Alternatively, why can’t it be the new home of the School of Social Welfare, allowing The Tien Center to move into Haviland Hall and build a second, smaller building on the Haviland parking lot?

Such a solution would spare Observatory Hill and allow Haviland Hall to retain its position of primacy on the northwestern edge of Memorial Glade.


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