Local Landmark: ArtCenter’s Bridge Building

The Craig Ellwood–designed structure has served as a creative hub for present and future innovators.

Pasadena’s ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education, boasting cutting-edge campuses and structures, including its Hillside Campus’ dramatic modernist steel-and-glass bridge building. The iconic landmark spans an arroyo in the San Rafael Hills, just above the Rose Bowl, and houses many of the college’s undergraduate programs, as well as its graduate industrial design and graduate film programs and administrative offices.

Designed by Craig Ellwood, known as the “Case Study House architect,” the building is considered the last major work of his professional career. Its seemingly simple façade of exposed steel, with solar gray glass and matching opaque panels, melds with its wooded surroundings, and has been said to give the appearance of a great glazed box floating between two hills.

The building’s existence is largely due to former ArtCenter President Don Kubly and his wife, Sally, who were instrumental in the selection of Ellwood, as they had previously commissioned him to build their Pasadena home. The Kublys met while attending ArtCenter as students, both later returning to the college in a professional capacity—Don served as president from 1969 to 1985 and Sally served as art director for many ArtCenter publications between 1975 and 1981. Both have since passed away (Sally only earlier this year), but their impact—and ArtCenter’s—will live on for generations to come.