Another one of Walker Hall at UC Davis; this one was going to be a panorama, full colour, but I stopped and never finished. This is the brand new Graduate Center, which if you’ve been following this blog you’ll know has been built into the newly renovated historic Walker Hall. It’s all finished now, except for some bits in front of the building, and there are even staff working inside now, albeit at the limited no-more-than-25% capacity. I was even given a special personal tour of the building a few weeks ago, which was really exciting; the last time I’d been in there it was a demolition site, I wore a hard hat and was told to be careful I didn’t fall into big holes in the floor. It’s lovely in there now, I can’t wait until it’s properly opened up for the graduate students. I will do a proper ‘final’ sketch of the whole building though they have planted these trees in front, which will make it a bit harder to see until all the leaves fall off; might look nice in the Fall actually.
This is the almost-ready Graduate Center in the almost-refurbished historic Walker Hall, on the UC Davis campus. If you have been reading this site for a while you might have seen this building once or twice; see all the previous posts at petescully.com/tag/walker-hall. Well the little huts where all the construction workers go have been moved away, and so I had a pretty good view from across Hutchison, though the fence is still up. I did this fairly quick panorama while I was on campus earlier this month. Click on the image to see a close-up.
And this is what it looked like back in January 2014! Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, as Bowie would say. If he were still alive. I wish Bowie were still alive.
Regular listeners will recognize this building as Walker Hall, which has been under redevelopment for quite some time now on its way to becoming the new Graduate Center, which was slated to open in 2020 but looks set for 2021 now, unless you subscribe to the opinion that 2020 hasn’t really ended yet. (To be fair, 2016 only just ended yesterday). It’s starting to look quite different now and almost nearly ready, as a lot of the area in front of the building (I mean, the rear of the building, this is actually the rear, but I think it’s the front now) (a bit like Buckingham Palace, you know the part of the building we all see is technically the back? It doesn’t matter, it’s a building not a video game) has been paved and a lot of the construction huts are going, though it’s still all fenced off. The last time I went inside there was November 2018 when I got to draw the insides with a hard hat on (see: https://petescully.com/2019/01/28/inside-walker-hall/), which was very exciting, because your urban sketching street cred goes right up if you wear a hard hat. It has been fun to watch this whole building evolve (by the way I made a handy folder on Flickr to see all the drawings I’ve done of this building, for those who are interested: https://www.flickr.com/photos/petescully/albums/72157678149480548) but it will be nice to draw it from a different angle once again.
That said, here are a few sketches of this angle (usually stood on the steps of Shields Library) from over the past couple of years during the rebuild, for comparison. Funny how I usually draw it in January, and twice now on January 15th, which was the traditional Deadline Day for PhD applications when I was a grad coordinator. In fact it was the former Graduate Dean Jeff Gibeling that gave me the idea to draw the redevelopment back when plans for the new Graduate Center was first unveiled years ago, as I had been drawing the developments at the Pitzer and the Manetti Shrem at the time. It’s fun tracking changes in sketchbooks.
Still working from home, but coming to campus a couple of times a week at least to do stuff in the department, although the lack of people on campus really is depressing, the start of Fall quarter is usually about the buzz and energy of everyone being around, but there’s none of that this year, with most people working from home and most students taking their classes remotely. This is the Zoom Generation. What a year. Nobody really knows when this will end, but end it must, and construction goes on for when we are all back. I wonder what impact the pandemic will have on future architecture? I’d be interested to follow developments in the next few years with global pandemics in mind now that is a thing. In the meantime here are some sketches I did in the middle of September on the UC Davis campus of some of the ongoing construction projects. Above, Walker Hall, which is nearly ready. You can see all my other Walker Hall sketches at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/petescully/albums/72157678149480548. This will be the new Graduate Center, and I attended a virtual walkthrough last week which was really exciting. Last time I was in the building was two years ago when I was invited to sketch inside during reconstruction, I was able to explore the space and try not to fall through holes in the floor, and I got my photo of me sketching with the hard-hat which was what I really wanted. It’ll be great to see Walker Hall finally open. Here is the ongoing construction project at the Chemistry Building, that started at the end of 2019. This part of it anyway, the other parts of the huge building have been undergoing work for a few years already. You can see the sky was sorta blue on these days, the AQI was still high, but the smoky skies were intermittent. Not so on the day I drew the sketch below, when skies were dull and brownish/orange from smoke. I wasn’t outside for long, but I ate a sandwich at the Silo and stood outside to draw the view of the new Teaching and Learning Complex rising over the skyline. Building work keeps on going.
They are nearly done with Walker Hall, the new Graduate Center at UC Davis being built inside the completely renovated and changed older building in the middle of the UC Davis campus. I’ve been drawing it for a few years, though obviously not much in the past few months. I will get down there again soon. In 2020 I only managed these two sketches, one on the iPad and one in the sketchbook. There are only so many angles I can draw and draw again, looking in from the outside, but you can really see the changes now. The glass is being added to the windows, signs being put up around it to let everyone know what this will be, it will really make a difference to this part of campus, just as the impressive Student Community Center next door has done.
I get really obsessed with construction projects sometimes, especially if they are just a couple of minutes from my work (and easy to draw at lunchtime). It’s also that thing where you’ve drawn so much of campus and city that anything new, any changes happening, are worth tracking in a sketchbook. Before and after are fine, but during a construction you get to see things in a very temporary state. When I draw the Manetti Shrem being built, I captured views that I would never have another chance to sketch even later the same day. When using a sketchbook to record them, you are seeing them how your mind sees them, focusing on what you can. This is then also a record of how you saw the construction, what you thought was important enough to put on paper; same with every sketch.
You can see all the other Walker Hall sketches in this tag: https://petescully.com/tag/walker-hall/
We interrupt the tales of my summer in Europe with an update on Walker Hall’s redevelopment at UC Davis. Well I say an update, what I mean is a bunch of sketches I did last year. The place already looks very different (but it’s not yet finished). As ever I can only draw it from certain angles that I can actually see into, I’ve not been back inside it in well over a year now. Above and below, this is how Walker Hall looked in August. On the one below, you can see that some glass was put into the side windows already.
Below is the front side, which as you can now see has the glass windows installed on this side.
And here is the front side again as sketched in December, when the leaves were colourful and falling. I’m still sketching it, but I’ll add my 2020 ones in a later post. It will be finally opening this year as the new Graduate Center, when the staff from Graduate Studies will be relocating from Mrak Hall, where I’ve always known them, into this shiny yet historic new home.
A couple more sketches of Walker Hall. As you can see from above there are new metal pieces being added to the front. Progress continues apace. I hope there is enough office space for all the staff that will be working in there when it is done. I can’t wait to see what it looks like. I have not been back inside since that one time, I might see if I can go back in once things progress even more, get the hard hat back on. Anyway, the above was my second attempt at sketching, on the first (below) I was beset on all sides by the inequities of the sneezing, and the allergies of sneezy men. Blessed is he who in the name of allergies and good will asks the weak “what are you taking?”, for he is truly his brother’s keeper, and the finder of unasked for allergy remedies. And I will sneeze down upon thee with great vengeance and furious pollen those who attempt to sneeze on my brothers, and you will know my name is ATCHOO! when I lay my tissues upon you. ATCHOO! ATCHOO! ATCHOO! ATCHOO!
Ok, what? Where did that come from? I sneezed a lot. I sneeze a lot at this time of year. When I sneeze a lot it makes me think of Pulp Fiction. I’ve said before I don’t like being blessed when I sneeze, for one thing it doesn’t work, because I just keep on sneezing. “What are you taking?” “Oh nothing, I’m just hoping all the blessing finally works.” Someone actually said to me the other day after saying a couple of “bless-yous”, they said, “oh wait you have allergies, not a cold” like it makes a difference. I take it then that you can only bless someone who has an actual cold, but allergies are beyond magic spiritual faith healing? But maybe instead of saying “Bless-you!” people can instead go into the full “Ezekiel 25-17”. Just say the whole thing when someone sneezes, then they won’t feel bad for sneezing ten times over you. “What are you taking?” “Ezekiel 25-17.”
“Ask your doctor about taking once-daily Ezekiel 25-17. Side effects include constipation, a runny nose, flocks of seagulls, big brains, breaks in concentration, saying “what” again, saying “what” one more goddamn time. In some cases injury and death can occur. If you should notice any of these side-effects, you ain’t got no problem. I’m on the mother****er. Go back in there, and wait for the Wolf, who should be coming directly.”
The latest sketch of Walker Hall, UC Davis. The tiles are now stacked on the roof, ready to be laid, and some steel structures have been built around the entrances to the wings. There is also some extra steel framing on the roof of the wings. Long way to go but it’s coming along nicely! Want to see all my other Walker Hall sketches? Here is a handy Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/petescully/albums/72157678149480548
I have kept on sketching Walker Hall, from the outside, because it is near to work and easy to go and draw at lunchtimes. All of these are form this month, January 2019, and I’ll probably take a break for a while now until the building changes a bit more from the outside. This is a fun project though, and as this renovation continues, it’s a reminder that Walker Hall will not be seen like this again. Sketched documentation is showing a moment in time that will pass.
Part of me though is like, yeah but get a move on eh. The changes are subtle – the roof is covered in different material now, in a different colour. Also, I look back at my sketchbooks from exactly a year ago, and it looks like it used to, undisturbed by large machines.
Walker Hall actually dates back to 1927, as one of the first permanent buildings on campus, designed by the architect William Hays. It was renamed in 1959 for Harry B. Walker, former agricultural engineering professor, this being the old Engineering building. In 2011 it finally stopped being used, and sat empty. I remember years ago there used to be a wall, and a load of cacti, and the path along the back of Walker Hall was narrower and didn’t have such a good view of Shields Library. I remember walking past the windows above next to the rows of bikes and seeing people drawing on huge tables, design students most likely, though I never went in for a look around. That side of the building has an unusual pattern on it now. My most recent sketch was the one below. I think that will do, for a while.
As you may know I have been sketching the ongoing reconstruction/renovation of Walker Hall, the big old building in the middle of the UC Davis campus that is being transformed into the Graduate Center. It’s an interesting and exciting project that will provide the university with a dedicated hub for graduate students in a setting that retains the elements of a historical piece of UC Davis architecture with a refreshing modern upgrade. Phew that all sounds like a brochure for a condo complex. Never ever write like that again, Pete. Anyway, there was a nice write-up about my documentation of this on the UC Davis Graduate Studies website, and back in November I was invited to go inside and actually sketch the site. “As long as I can get a photo of me sketching with a hard hat!” was my response. Urban Sketching cred you know. Of course the yellow vest has in the time since taken on slightly different undertones on the other side of the pond but it can be a handy tool. Years ago someone told me that they often wear a yellow vest when they go out filming on the streets for their art projects, so that nobody questions them, they look like they are from the council. Well I’ve never done that, but it was nice to be officially kitted out by the management for sketching a building site, though I could only sketch after the builders were out of the way, and I wasn’t to jump over any big holes. I didn’t have long before the sun went down so I did as much as I could, and coloured in at home. Above, the view from the second floor overlooking two of the wings. Below, the sought-after picture of me in a hard-hat, sketching that very scene.
The front of the building will remain mostly unchanged, though I imagine the tiles will be cleaned up a bit.
Inside was gutted with cables and crevasses and equipment everywhere. I loved this broom though. I
The scene below was mostly drawn afterwards. It was the last thing I attempted to draw and I plotted out the perspective and where the intersecting lines would go, I drew the yellow tape barriers and the crane, and then I had to go. So I came back to it this weekend and finished it off. It’s funny drawing it from the outside so many times and then finally showing the inside.
Finally, a sunset photo from the second floor. I have several more sketches of Walker Hall’s exterior that I have sketched since, but this seems like a good place to stop.