Built Environment

Built Environment

The physical built environment of the campus provides its overall look and feel in addition to housing students, staff, and faculty, providing learning environments, and creating the structure around which other systems interact. The planning and construction of capital projects (buildings and other systems) requires thoughtful planning, and allows the university to design not only sustainable buildings, but also create a sense of place and identity.


  • Living Community Challenge integrated into Master Plan
  • In partnership with an academic course, a Biophilic Design Plan was created to integrate the historic, cultural and natural environment into the building design.
  • Over 300 buildings and structures have been demolished with sustainable practices, including material reuse or recycling (over 90% diversion), falconry to prevent nesting, and water efficient techniques for removing lead paint.

Transitional Spaces

Transitional spaces foster comfort by providing access from one area to another.

Integration of Culture and Ecology

The fusion of culture with ecology fosters long-term sustainability.

Spirit of Place

The spirit of a place signifies a level of commitment and meaning that people extend to both natural and built environments.

Landscape Features That Define Building Form

Landscape features can embellish and distinguish building form, particularly prominent geological features, natural objects and water.


Historic Connection To Place

Meaningful relation to place often marks the passage of time, which fosters a sense of participation and awareness of an area’s culture and collective memory.


Bounded Spaces

Humans have a strong proclivity for bounded spaces. This territorial tendency, over evolutionary time, likely fostered resource exploitation and security.

Fear & Awe

It may seem odd to emphasize negative and unwanted feelings such as fear and a version of nature as components of biophilic design.

Habitats & Ecosystems

Buildings and landscapes that possess a close and compatible relationship to local habitats and ecosystems also tend to be highly effective and preferred.

Sensory Variability

Human fitness and survival have always required coping with a highly sensuous and variable natural environment, particularly responding to light, sound, touch, smell and other sensory environmental conditions.

Linked Series & Chains

Clear physical and temporal movement in both natural and built environments is often facilitated by linked spaces, especially when occurring in connected chains.

Landscape Ecology

Effective place-based designs reinforce landscape ecology over the long-term.

Prospect & Refuge

Refuge reflects a structure or natural environment’s ability to provide a secure and protected setting.

How do we connect our love of nature with where we live?

Students Apply CSUMB's Living Community Challenge Across Campus
Students Apply CSUMB's Living Community Challenge Across Campus

What are the unique geological and biological aspects that one needs to consider on the CSU Monterey Bay campus? What are the unique aspects of climate, habitat and culture that CSU Monterey Bay is adapting to? How might you consider connecting people to this special place? There are no prescriptive answers, but one good bet is on diversity!

Elements, Attributes, and Dimensions of Biophilic Design

  • Environmental Features: color, water, air, sunlight, plants, animals, natural materials, views and vistas, facade greening, geology and landscape, habitats and ecosystems, and fire.
  • Natural Shapes and Forms: botanical and animal motifs, tree and columnar supports, shells, spirals, egg, oval and tubular forms, arches, vaults, domes, shapes resisting straight lines and right angles, simulation of natural features, biomorphy , geomorphology, and biomimicry.
  • Natural Patterns and Processes: sense of variability, information richness, age, change, and the patina of time, growth and efflorescence, a central focal point, patterned wholes, bounded spaces and transitional spaces, linked series, and chains, integration of parts to wholes, complimentary contrasts, dynamic balances and tension, fractals, hierarchically organized ratios and scales.
  • Light and Space: natural light and shadow, filtered and diffused light: reflected light, light pools, warm light, light as shape and form, spaciousness, space as shape and form, spatial variability and harmony, and inside-out spaces.
  • Place-Based Relationships: historic, geographical, cultural and ecological connection to place, indigenous materials, landscape orientation and ecology, landscape features that define built forms, integration of culture and ecology, the spirit of place and avoiding placelessness.
  • Evolved Human-Nature Relationships: prospect and refuge, security and protection, order, complexity, information and cognition, curiosity and enticement, exploration and discovery, change and metamorphosis, mastery and control, affection and attachment, attraction and beauty, fear and awe, reverence and spirituality.