aa355a814feb773c4a1283b7885c6d94.jpgPhotograph of the Upper Quarry Amphitheater by the Barton-Gillet Company, 1980. Courtesy UCSC Special Collections.


With its unique fusion of natural, industrial, and architectural features, the Upper Quarry Amphitheater is a visually stunning space. At the same time, the site serves as a reminder of the fragile relationship between human activity and the natural world.

From about 1850 until 1946, mining companies extracted marble from the site in order to produce quicklime, leaving behind a large quarry where a redwood-covered hillside once stood. In 1967, the University of California commissioned the landscape architecture firm of Robert Royston to transform this industrial landscape into a center for campus life. Royston's vision for the quarry resonated with the design philosophy of other campus architects, who thought of landscape architecture as a form of environmental stewardship. The design, comprised of marble, redwood, and other earthy materials, responded to the existing features of the terrain and evoked the landscape that had been lost to industry. 

The Amphitheater was the center of campus life for nearly 40 years, when commencement ceremonies as well as political and cultural events. The site was closed in 2006 due to deterioration and accessibility concerns. In 2017, after a three-year fundraising campaign, UCSC renovated the Amphitheater. The renovation preserved the spirit of Royston's design, while updating critical components in order to make the space more safe, accessible, and comfortable.

This exhibit, sponsored by UCSC Physical Planning and Construction, documents the historical transformations that have shaped and reshaped the site of the Upper Quarry Amphitheater.

Viewing note: The exhibit is best viewed in Chrome or Firefox in full-screen mode. The exhibit will soon be optimized for viewing with mobile devices.

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368f83c1a96f3430c0c92b2b4131c855.jpg"Upper Quarry with residents of Cowell College," photographed by Eric Thiermann, 1966.