From Institution to Inspiration: The Transformation of CI’s Campus

Aspirations Fountain

Ask students and alumni what they appreciate about CI and they universally mention the beauty of its campus.

“This is one classy campus,” said River Rose, a nursing student. “The grounds are beautiful and meticulously maintained. The architecture is unusual for a university and I love it.”

Nestled on 1,200 acres at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains, CI’s picturesque campus blends striking 1930s Spanish architecture with state-of-the-art, 21st century facilities and technology.

For those who roam the green expanse of the South Quad or relax in a quiet courtyard, it’s hard to envision how a 1930s state hospital was transformed into a modern learning environment.

John Gormley knows all too well. As CI’s University Architect and Director of Planning, Design and Construction, he’s helped oversee many of the eight building renovations and seven construction projects and improvements – an investment of more than $233 million – that have marked the past 10 years.

“We’ve created a campus that tells a story both about its history and its potential for the future,” Gormley said. “For a university that’s 10 years old, there’s no other campus I’m aware of like it that has the feeling that it’s been around for 80 years, in such a beautiful setting, close to the beach, with the size of a small, private college.”

From the iconic Bell Tower to the magnificent John Spoor Broome Library, each renovated building merges old and new, leaving the most striking architectural and historical aspects intact. Structures originally designed to contain Camarillo State Hospital clients now are reinvented as open, high-tech spaces for learning, working, gathering and living.

Archival photo of Camarillo State Hospital Mall
CI Mall today
Archival photo of Bell Tower building and courtyard
Bell Tower and courtyard today - Photo by Larry Lytle
Archive photos: CSH Archives; Bell Tower photo: Larry Lytle

The Broome Library, designed by world famous British architect Lord Norman Foster, merges original architecture with a modern glass structure, combining both styles into a student-centered digital teaching library. Santa Cruz Village, a three-year, $37-million project, provides 450 student residence hall suites and a true “college experience.” The Student Union’s original mission-style façade and arched doorways lead into ample game rooms, gathering spaces, a performance stage and a courtyard, creating a unique indoor/outdoor space. A high-tech case study classroom with global connectivity serves students of business and other disciplines in the Martin V. Smith Center for Integrative Decision-Making. The recently completed new University Drive provides a large, visually appealing entrance to campus, literally paving the way for the eventual growth of the campus to 15,000 students. And, this year, completion of the five-year, $31-million renovations of Del Norte Hall and Madera Hall will provide much-needed flexible classroom spaces, a 120-seat lecture hall and 130 faculty offices.

Anacapa Village residence hall

Photo: Michael Urbanek/

Everything – from buildings to landscaping – is designed to conserve natural resources and save energy. Gormley said the University has decreased electricity use by 30 percent over the past two years through efforts such as more efficient lighting and ventilation systems that capitalize on the temperate natural air. Ninety-eight percent of campus landscaping is irrigated with reclaimed water and many expanses of lawn have been replaced with native, drought-tolerant plants. CI’s commitment to conserving energy and natural resources earned a silver rating (on a scale from bronze to platinum) from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) in 2011.

John Spoor Broome Library reflecting pool

“It is such a magical and magnificent place that everyone should at a minimum come see what we’ve done to transform the facility and repurpose it into something of value to future generations,” Gormley said. “My happiest moments are seeing it being used by the people it was intended to serve.”