From the Boiler Building to the Pitzer Center

ann e. pitzer center uc davis
Last night I held a talk at the UC Davis Design Museum in conjunction with my sketchbook exhibit, “Conversations with the City”. It went really well, a lot of people came, and hopefully I made some sense. I know afterwards I kept thinking, “oh I forgot to say that! I should have mentioned this!” One thing I did make sure was a central part of the talk though was the idea of the sketchbook as a tool to record history, and to demonstrate that I showed the history (over a period of a few years) of one spot on the UC Davis campus, that being of course where the Boiler Building once stood, and its heir, the Ann E. Pitzer Center. UC Davis’s newest music building is, as regular readers will know, now complete and hosting beautiful music, and at last my final drawing of the building is done, right above. I sketched this last Sunday morning and showed it in my slides last night, the original will be displayed at Putah Creek Winery from next week (did I mention I have another show in Davis starting next week? I think in my excitement I forgot to say last night! I’ll post about it soon…)

So now then I will show at last the full story, as I showed people last night, of my sketches from the Boiler Building to the Pitzer Center. It has been a fun piece of documentation.

THE OLD BOILER BUILDING

Old Boiler Building

allez les verts

nanodrawmo 33

boiler building

boiler building (other side)

boiler building again

behind the boiler buildingboilers

THE DEMOLITION

boiler building, under demolition

boiler building, under demolition

boiler building (back)

boiler building, coming down

boiler building 121112 two

…AND IT’S GONE

former boiler building location

TWO YEARS LATER…

music recital hall (under construction)

music recital hall (under construction)

Pitzer Center under construction

pitzer center uc davis

pitzer center uc davis

pitzer center oct2015-2 sm

pitzer center (under construction)

Pitzer Center UC Davis (under construction)

Pitzer Center UC Davis (under construction)

Pitzer Center UCD

Pitzer Center UCD

Pitzer Center UCD

Pitzer Center UCD

pitzer center - nearly done!

THE PITZER CENTER OPENS!

pitzer center back

pitzer center rear

pitzer center performance 9/24/16

ann e. pitzer center uc davis

Thanks for following this, everyone. It’s been fun.

The Pitzer Center…finally finished!

pitzer-center-performance-sep2016-sm

After more than a year covering its construction, preceded by several years sketching the old Boiler Building on this spot, then documenting its demolition, the Ann E. Pitzer Center is finally open. This is the new Music Recital Hall for the UC Davis campus, a state-of-the-art performance and teaching facility. This past weekend was the opening weekend of performances, and on Saturday evening I attended the Faculty and Students of UC Davis concert, choosing a seat near the back to not only get as good a view for a long-awaited interior sketch, but also to test the acoustics of this new space. They are very good. I drew most of the room before the performance started, and just added the performers of the first piece once they took to the stage; I spent the rest of the time just sitting taking in the beautiful music. Many of the performances were amazing, and so varied, a lesson in the history of music, but for me this first piece was the best bit. Members of the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra played “Crisantemi” (“Chrysanthemums”) by Puccini, and it was just beautiful, haunting, elegant. The music comes right back to me when I look at the sketch. That is the thing about sketching – you can show, and you can even demonstrate your feelings in the lines, but unless you were actually there, you weren’t there, and I wish you could hear the music I still hear when I see it. I enjoyed this event, and the shiny clean newness of the building. I must make an effort to see some more events there.

pitzer-center-sep2016-sideback-sm

I did get an outside sketch of the back of the building before the concert, though it was a little rushed, and the green grass a little forced.

pitzer-center-sep2016-rear-sm

I did do another one on Monday in pencil, of the view with the tall Sproul Hall behind it. I wanted to get one last sketch of this view, as this was the same view from when I sketched the Boiler Building back in 2011.And for all that I like this new building, and the beautiful music that it will host from here onwards, this view made me a little sad to think about the old Boiler Building, crumbling, idle, full of cobwebs and rust. I loved sketching that old place. Looking at Sproul in the background, though, I think I’m better at perspective now…

Old Boiler Building

building the pitzer, part one

music recital hall (under construction)
music recital hall (under construction)
More construction on the UC Davis campus, while I slowly scan (and finish in some cases) my French sketches. Long-memoried observers of my UC Davis sketch adventures (really, that sentence) will recall that I spent a lot of time a couple of years ago or so sketching the demise of the old Boiler Building. You can see those posts at petescully.com/tag/boiler-building. The space was assigned as the location of the brand new Music Recital Hall, which (thanks to a generous donation by the late alumna Ann Pitzer) will officially be called the Ann E. Pitzer Center. When complete, it will be a 399 seat concert venue (why 399? Definitely no room for 400? Bet there’s a bureaucracy reason, oh I love the bureaucracy. No, I actually do). It will also be a classroom space, which will have course schedulers gleefully rubbing their hands with their 400-capacity classes (ah, I see why it’s 399 seats now…). Anyway, I got back from Europe and saw that construction had finally begun, with the first concrete panels going up (top sketch). A week later (yesterday) the large concrete box was already sealed. I don’ know what the vertical lines around the edges signify, but they add a touch of interest into what currently looks like some sort of military installation. It won’t always look like that. Once the shiny glass and steel are added this will be one of the most attractive buildings on campus, and one of the first you see when you enter on Shields Avenue, in what will be known as the campus ‘Arts District’. Old Boiler Building

On the right, you can see how this spot used to look, in 2011. I miss the old Boiler Building, with its rusty pipes and sun-burnt tiles. You can find out more about the Pitzer Center here at arts.ucdavis.edu/pitzercenter. Here is how it will eventually look (pictures from the Davis Enterprise). I’ll be sketching its progress, so watch this space…

some forever, not for better

former boiler building location
At the end of 2012 I sketched a series about the final days of the old boiler building on the UC Davis campus, as it was being torn down.It has been an empty space ever since, though there are currently odd piles of dirt dotted around like giant molehills that weren’t there before. What will take this place is the Music Recital Hall. You can see if you look really closely something resembling a tiny puddle. Well, not much of one. Last night, for the first time in absolutely ages (three months maybe?), we had rain in Davis. Loud, epic, sweep away your shed rain. Any rain in Davis gets a weather warning it seems (water from the sky is just such a weird concept), this one got a flood warning too. It never rains, quite literally, but it pours. And then it is gone. And people are probably already saying, it rains so much here in spring. A couple of weeks ago with the onset of 90s weather looming I overheard someone say that “we’ve had a week of spring and then it’s summer!” as if it hadn’t been in the 60s and 70s and full of sunshine since January. I also heard someone say that we have had a really long winter this year. That was in mid-January. Seriously, dudes.

The first year I was here, though, we had some proper extreme weather. Rain like I haven’t seen since, for months, with massive floods on New Years Day. I just assumed that it was a permanent lake between here and Sacramento, it was a real surprise to me when I first saw the land part of those wetlands by the Causeway. The rains and snowmelt finally gave way to summer, and what a summer that was. We had two weeks where it didn’t fall below a hundred degrees, even at night, and while I’ve experienced hot summers since, there has been nothing quite like that summer of 2006. Here is a sketch from back then which illustrates it. This Londoner just doesn’t do such heat. Well, summer is coming.

that’s what i’m trying to tell you kid, it’s been totally blown away

boiler building 121112 one
These lunchtime sketches are the last drawings ever of the old UC Davis Boiler Building. I made a point of getting there today to see what was left, and met a wide open space and a sad, defiant little corner. I just had to sketch straight away. As I sketched, big machines heaved and huffed and knocked away segments. Large cracks appeared accompanied by deep thunderous booms. It’s nothing personal, they said, we just want a place for the music to happen. The old external boilers, which originally drew me to the building (I sketched those back in 2010 as part of my hydrants and pipes NaNoDrawMo series), were holding out. I moved to the other side, to excitedly grab another sketch from a different angle. Such a thirst for the creative powers of destruction! When I came back a couple of hours later, all that remained were the boilers and a small section of wall. Oh, and a lot of rubble.
boiler building 121112 two

I am not done, of course. I’ll chart the new building as it grows, the new Recital Hall. I don’t know what it will look like yet (I don’t want to see any of the plans, I want the surprise).

Fare thee well, old Boiler Building! Rest in Pieces!

bring it on down

boiler building, coming down

Back to the old Boiler Building, and the machines are really tearing it down now. The whole east side has been turned to rubble, leaving a sad, draughty, haunted shell. A small crowd of people with young, construction-machine-loving-aged children (you know the age, parents!) to see the mighty mechanical dinosaurs at work, and to wave goodbye to a historic part of UC Davis. Back at work, I spoke about this sad demise of a much-loved campus sight to some of the professors who have taught there for the past few decades. “Where’s this, then?” they said. “Boiler Building? Is that downtown somewhere? Don’t know that one.” Well, I’ll miss it. Even if I too had no idea what it was for until recently.

will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls

boiler building (back)
I can’t get enough. I’m not obsessed or anything. Here is the UC Davis Boiler Building again, still in the same state of deconstruction as in the previous two sketches. It’s looking so sad and beaten, yet triumphant as well, as though it’s saying, come on, do your worst. Another demolition machine has lined up beside it now, like a warrior preparing for more hyperbole. I drew it from the back this time, another angle, in fact the same angle as I drew it from in August, this one here:
behind the boiler building
It was sunny today, too. I just didn’t show you the blue sky. It just didn’t seem appropriate.