Paul Revere Williams’ building gets a refresh from CO Architects

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CO Architects’ renovation of architect Paul Revere Williams’ Pritzker Hall at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) features an updated facade and seismic improvements. The 1967 building houses part of UCLA’s Psychology Department and rises 11 stories—three of which are below grade. Its cubic shape is formed by a structural concrete grid.

The University decided to renovate the building—formerly known as Franz Hall II and the Psychology Tower—upon discovering seismic deficiencies, and to accommodate the school’s growing psychology program. CO Architects had previously led the renovation of the campus’ 1929 Royce Hall.

CO associate principal Phillip White explained that UCLA “fortunately” saved Williams’ original plans of the building from the early 1960s. Prior to the renovation the architects visited a number of Williams’ other designs around Los Angeles, including the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Shrine Auditorium. White described how the design team took note of Williams’ form-follows-function designs, though, pointed out that the openings in Pritzker Hall’s five-story structural grid did not always correspond with windows, as they were not appropriate for certain research needs. Hence, the unified facade gave an illusion of uniformity across its four faces despite the more private, windowless interior spaces. ​​

Elevation of academic building
The renovated Pritzker Hall on UCLA’s campus maintains much of its modernist design, while adapting for the needs of a growing psychology department. (Kim Rodgers)
Rendering of 1960s building
The original rendering by Paul Revere Williams shows the presence of the hall over the courtyard. (Courtesy UCLA Library Photographic Services)

Williams designed the openings in the grid to include a modest curve at the top and bottom of the opening, with “angled cement-plaster headers and spandrels at each window, or a cement-plaster panel opening.” Bronze-anodized aluminum frames surrounded single pane, bronze-tinted windows, and the structural concrete was painted in brown and tan hues.