Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Orville Dahl Centrum Buildings

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Institution Name: California Lutheran University
Original/Historic Place Name: Orville Dahl Centrum Building
Location on Campus: northwest side of Campus
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
ca. 1960-1965original construction Elmendorf, Jeff Jefferson A. Architect
Type of Place: Building group
Style(s) of majority of buildings: Other: Late Modern
Style(s) of minority of buildings: not applicable
Building group type: Modern
Relationship to landscape:
Ideas associated with building group:
ca. 1965other (Communications Services Building)
ca. 1965other (bookstore)
ca. 1965residence hall (Mount Clef Dormitory)
ca. 1965-1985other (giftshop; round building)
ca. 1965-1985other (barbershop)
ca. 1965-1985other (real estate office)
ca. 1965-1985other (dentist's office)
ca. 1965-1985other (motel and shops)
ca. 1965-1985other (the Bank of A. Levy occupied one of the rectangular buildings)
ca. 1965-1985library
ca. 1965-1985dining hall
ca. 1985other (Centrum Café; round building)
ca. 1985classrooms (rectangular buildings)
ca. 1985administration (rectangular buildings)

Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

"The Centrum" is a group of seven buildings. Originally, they included a cafeteria, motel and shops, a library, a bank, a barber shop, a dentist's office, and a real estate office. In the mid-1980s, the rectangular buildings were converted into administrative offices and classrooms and the round building (formerly a gift shop) was transformed into the "Centrum Café," a local campus gathering place. The building formerly occupied by the Bank of A. Levy is now the Hansen Administration Center.

The most noticeable feature of the complex is the poured concrete barrel roofs, an expressive element of the Late Modern style of the period. These barrel forms were preferred because they did not require vertical structural support, thus allowing large, open, and unfettered interior classroom spaces. The lunettes below the scalloped forms bring a profusion of light into the buildings.

The dormitory, and a few other buildings, are ornamented with metal grillwork, in a repeating "bubble" motif, which served as an inexpensive yet aesthetic means to filter light while refracting the sun's harsher rays.

Together, the yoking of these aspects of engineering and aesthetics suggest a kind of space-age technology of the 1960s and an optimism that such forms would engender a new way of living in the modern period.

I. Bibliographic sources:

[Master Plans for the Orville Dahl Centrum Buildings.] California Lutheran College Bulletin 1, no. 1 (January 1961).

[Revised Master Plans for the Orville Dahl Centrum Buildings.] California Lutheran College Bulletin 3, no. 3 (May 1962).

[Revised Master Plans for the Orville Dahl Centrum Buildings.] California Lutheran College Bulletin 4, no. 1 (April 1963).

II. Location of other data:

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