UC Santa Cruz Upper Quarry Amphitheater Restoration


University of California, Santa Cruz


Santa Cruz, California




2,080 Seats (+600 Additional)


$6 Million

The Upper Quarry Amphitheater at UC Santa Cruz was designed in the mid-1960s by landscape architect Robert Royston inside of a natural stone quarry on campus. Graduations, protests, lectures and concerts were held in this 2,000 seat amphitheater until it deteriorated to the point it could no longer be safely used. Both a renovation and a rehabilitation, the project upgraded the venue to include accessible seating and better access for all patrons. The project scope also included rock-slope stabilization, safety fencing, improved emergency vehicle access, on-site stormwater treatment, regular and emergency power, and site lighting. Supporting the overwhelming request of the students, Wi-Fi was installed to serve over 2,000 simultaneous connections for streaming of live events.

The site now includes one additional row of seating, maintaining the original asymmetrical seat layout as closely as possible. Materials used represent the original design with revisions to improve long-term durability and maintenance. Stairs were also reconstructed in their original locations. The Upper Quarry Amphitheater is a historical resource under CEQA, and as such all modifications were sympathetic to the original design to not diminish the amphitheater’s historic integrity.

The project was featured in Landscape Architecture Magazine’s, January 2020 issue. It received a Special Mention from the jury of the 2020 Architizer A+Awards in the Architecture +Landscape category and was also chosen as a finalist in the Architecture +Preservation category.

Historic images are courtesy of University of California, Santa Cruz, Special Collections; Color photography by Kyle Jeffers.



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