Photographer: David Horan, 2010, Paul Revere Williams Project
During the first half of the 20th century, “What! Another building?” was not an unusual comment from returning alumni at the University of California, Los Angeles. From 1881 on North Vermont Avenue as the Los Angeles State Normal School and after the move to Westwood, UCLA experienced continuous plant development. With so much building on campus UCLA became associated with the phrase “Under Construction Like Always.” The initial Master Plan called for “a total of twenty or twenty-one units on the Westwood campus” and by 1936 there were 12 new buildings to accommodate the ever-growing student enrollment. (Los Angeles Times. May 31, 1936) By the 1960s after three decades of expansion, Chancellor Franklin D. Murphy declared the University within reach of its final physical appearance for the decades to come. He noted “the once lonely bean-field is now one of the most efficient and most beautiful university campuses in the world.” (Los Angeles Times. September 17, 1964.)
The first four buildings on campus (College Library, Royce Hall, Physics-Biology Building, and Chemistry Building) surrounded a main quadrangle – a common design plan for many of the new American universities built in the 1920s. The rolling terrain reminded early local architects, Allison & Allison, of northern Italy and their unifying building style was Romanesque Revival. Though the red brick, cast stone trim and tile roofs were officially modeled after the churches and universities in Bologna, Milan and Verona, these materials were familiar to most Los Angeles residents reminding them of the Spanish Revival style then popular in the city.
By the late 1950s Paul R. Williams was commissioned to design the new home for the Psychology Department—Shepard Ivory Franz Hall II. Welton Becket & Associates coordinated and streamlined the general appearance of all new campus building projects opting for a less costly, minimalist style changing the UCLA skyline. "Symbolizing the change are the sunsets. While still painting the older brick buildings a mellow, glowing red, they also flash blindingly off the silver astronomical observatory domes atop the Mathematical Sciences Building." (Los Angeles Times. April 19, 1959) Eleven stories of steel and concrete, Williams’ Franz Hall II would cost $4.8 million and be one of the tallest silhouettes on the campus. (Los Angeles Times. September 17, 1964)
Construction of the 124,600 square-foot Franz Hall II began December 1965 and was completed in September 1967. The building featured three basement levels with eight levels above ground for psychology laboratories and study facilities. In a series of newspaper articles in the Los Angeles Times, University officials proudly described the building as a state-of-the-art "instrumented structure" fitted with closed-circuit television and advanced automatic equipment to "control experiments and collect and process experimental results."
Williams designed Franz Hall II as a cube of 100 feet square. "The basic design includes an exterior reinforced concrete grill system with glass fillers. The grill system also supports the floors." (Los Angeles Times. December 26, 1965)
Pressure to complete Franz Hall II intensified as California’s need for psychologists grew after WWII. Before the building’s completion, UCLA was able to accept only 40 of the 400 graduate applicants to the program. Once Franz Hall II opened, the University doubled the number of faculty and graduate students and increased the types of psychological research programs offered.