UC San Diego is planning to build a $683 million housing neighborhood that will accommodate 2,400 students in a series of towers built around a central courtyard with pathways linking the area to the rest of the La Jolla campus.
Called Ridge Walk North Living and Learning Neighborhood, the heart of the project is an 18-story, 335,000-square-foot residential tower, a 16-story tower of 288,000-square-feet, a 10-story, 230,000 square-foot mixed-use building, and a 10-story building with housing for 436 students.
The mixed-use building will have an academic wing with 950 seats spread across two levels.
In all, there will be 19 new classrooms and a 150-seat lecture hall, student dining, wellness programs, student support services, study lounges, and a glass blowing craft studio that will be open to the public as part of the university’s drive to become more open to the community.
“We’re trying to become a destination, not just for the students, but for the community,” said Amy Engel, senior director of capital program management at UC San Diego. “We’re hoping this will drive more people to the campus.”
Among other things, Ridge Walk will include several pieces of public art, an historic garden and the university’s second location for e-gaming sports, Engel said.
“It will have all the video monitors and that vibe that goes along with the e-gaming sport,” she said. “Between the artwork and the green areas, we’re really hoping that it becomes a very activated site.”
The project also will include a six-story, 73.000-square-foot economics building that will have what the university terms a Basic Needs Center, the School of Global Policy and Strategy, and the Department of Economics in the School of Social Sciences.
The new development will have administrative and teaching space for Thurgood Marshall College as well.
Ridge Walk will be the central north-south pedestrian spine of the campus. The site is to the west of the Geisel Library.
With a 2023 enrollment of 33,000 undergraduate students and 10,000 graduate students, UC San Diego has set a goal of housing 65% of all students on campus.
As of this year, 39% of undergraduate students and 49% of graduate students live on campus.
“We want to bring the students back to campus,” Engel said. “We want to make sure they’re engaged in a student experience we can only provide if they’re on campus.”
Beyond the academic advantage of living on campus, Engel said that the new residential towers will give students an economical alternative to living off-campus.
“The rents are escalating off campus,” Engel said. “We’re trying to guarantee housing at a much more affordable rate than they can find in La Jolla.”
Construction is scheduled for completion in fall 2025 with the residential towers ready for students to move in for winter 2026. HMC and EYRC are the architects. HMC is focused on the housing and EYRC focused on the overall plan and the academic spaces. Hensel Phelps is the general contractor.
Ridge Walk is UC San Diego’s third Living and Learning Neighborhood. The first, the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood, opened in 2020 with housing for 2,000 students — and as the new home for the Sixth College and the School of Social Sciences and the School of Arts and Humanities.
The second, the Theater District Living and Learning Neighborhood, is scheduled to open later this year with housing for 2,000 students. It will also be the home to the university’s Eighth College.
UC SAN DIEGO
Campus Location: La Jolla
Chancellor: Pradeep K. Khosla
Business: Higher education, research, healthcare
Notable: UC San Diego is ranked among the best public research universities in the world.