From a giant bear built of boulders to a eucalyptus tree wind garden, the University of California, San Diego’s 1,200-acre campus contains 19 sculptures and art pieces that are integrated into its buildings and landscape. The art collection is the result of an agreement dating back to 1982 between the Stuart Collection and UCSD that says that the entire campus can be considered for site-specific commissioned sculptures. The collection continues to grow with the campus, with the most recent piece completed in 2017.
This might be the Stuart Collection’s most well-known piece, although it is fairly new, having opened in 2012. Designed by South Korean artist Do Ho Suh, Fallen Star is a small, fully-furnished blue cottage that sits precariously on the edge of a seven-story building, half of it hovering in the air. It also has a garden out front (as most charming cottages do).
“A small cottage has been picked up, as if by some mysterious force, and ‘landed’ atop Jacobs Hall, where it sits crookedly on one corner, cantilevered out over the ground seven stories below,” states the UCSD website. The piece is meant to explore ideas of home and cultural displacement, and is based on Suh’s experience of moving to the US.
Visitors can go inside the house on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Referred to colloquially as “Stonehenge,” the La Jolla Project is made up of 71 blocks of pink and gray granite. The blocks are arranged to create architectural motifs, such as columns, arches, windows, and doorways, giving it a Stonehenge-like appearance from afar. The piece was designed by Richard Fleischner.
Situated on the Revelle College lawn, the sculptures “transform an ordinary, nearly flat lawn into a space with allusions ranging from an ancient ruin to a contemporary construction site,” states the collection’s website. Completed in 1984, the La Jolla Project was the third work added to the Stuart Collection.
Despite being built of boulders, Bear maintains the endearing appearance of a teddy bear. Designed by Tim Hawkinson, Bear was built from eight, locally-found granite stones. It stands over 23 feet tall and weighs 180 tons. “’Bear’ looks simple but was a sophisticated transportation and engineering feat,” writes The Stuart Collection. “The process of placing and securing the boulders together was complex and unusual—actually unknown—in the construction world.”
The newest addition to the collection, The Wind Garden was conceived by Pulitzer-Prize winning composer John Luther Adams, who created a sound installation within the eucalyptus grove. The music is created by the current wind and light conditions so that no experience is ever the same. Motion and light sensors placed in the trees “translate varying forces of wind and changing light patterns into sound instantaneously using sophisticated software,” explains UCSD News. Speakers in the trees then help to project the sound, which vary in volume, depending on the weather conditions.
The first piece commissioned for the collection, Niki de Saint Phalle’s Sun God has become a campus icon. In 1984—a year after the sculpture was installed on campus—students started the Sun God Festival, which still continues as one of the biggest annual on-campus events. The vibrant bird stands 14 feet tall, and sits on top of a 15-foot concrete arch, giving it even more height.