Skip to content

University in the City

This is the second in a series of blog posts from our Runstad Center Affiliate Fellows class of 2015, who have just returned from their travels to Santiago, Chile, and Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba, Brazil.

See the map from the earlier post. We walked from our hotel to the University District and back (about 6 miles total on the day we arrived. We are tough!

The University district is a historic residential district adapted to house several universities. While over 170,000 students come to the neighborhood each day, few live nearby. Most Chileans live at home during college. We walked here from our hotel crossing Intercontinental Highway 5 (technically the same one that goes through Seattle!) and found an intriguing mix of modern and historic buildings.


University district house in disrepair.

Ricardo Abuauad, the Director of School of Architecture at Universidad Diego Portales (UDP), gave us a presentation about the history and development of the district. Six universities joined together to create a public/private partnership to advance the development of public space that supported the missions of the universities. This consortium convinced the communidad to keep building heights low and to preserve the existing scale of this neighborhood (reducing the potential square footage/tax revenue yet preserving the historic character). We will try to get copies of Ricardo’s slides as he showed innovative examples of integrating new (and large) buildings into the historic center. Thaisa provoked some interesting discussions about the concept of a ‘University in the City’ and how we might leverage the energy and impact of the multiple Seattle universities to advance the character and quality of both the universities and Seattle. Perhaps a future symposium on the topic hosted at UW?


Right across the street is a nifty apartment building.


Entry to the UDP Architecture Building designed by Ricardo Abuauad. Nice graffiti art!


The rooftop of UDP. Outdoor critique space and green roof. We want the same for Gould balconies!


Micro streets bring access to mid-block infill by tiny houses.


Urban planting by a local NGO Planta Banda….we didn’t find out anything other than it was there!


In many neighborhoods in Santiago we find plants in the street, on the buildings, in windows….a green city.