Michelle Logan

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The Experimental Construction Laboratory has been subject to vandalism in recent years.

Perhaps the destruction is in part because of the stigma that surrounds the facility’s nickname, “Architecture Graveyard,” according to former associate dean and longtime landscape architecture professor Richard Zweifel.

“It’s tragic because it really denotes more of the non-academic use of the field where people think it’s a fun place to hang out, as opposed to treating it like a laboratory,” Zweifel said.

But the facility has not always been a place of project dormancy. Students used to live in the experimental structures as caretakers for the canyon.

However, in 2011, the university deemed the canyon’s underground power distribution system unsafe.

“With the power turned off, we couldn’t have people out there in the residences,” Zweifel said. “And that’s really what determined that we couldn’t have people out there.”

With no caretakers to watch over the canyon, vandalism skyrocketed. But people are hoping to restore the laboratory so it can once again be a place of innovation.

The first annual Friends of the Canyon Day, held Jan. 24, kickstarted the renewal process.

Fundraising for the canyon is done with two goals in mind, according to associate dean of administration and architectural engineering professor Kevin Dong.

The first goal is based on stewardship, which involves people taking care of the canyon’s landscape and structures, he said.

“And the next [goal] is really looking toward the future,” said Dong. “It’s about providing partnerships for if students want to build something out here.”

Donations can be made to the Poly Canyon fund through the College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED).

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