Soka University of America

Campus Master Plan & Implementation

Aliso Viejo, California

We completed the final campus master plan and design of 11 of the 19 Phase 1 buildings for the Soka University of America campus, located on 103 acres of undeveloped land, ranging in elevation from 440 to 560 feet, with stands of oaks and native vegetation. Development occurred in phases, beginning with the 25-acre Campus Core, and later adding additional classrooms, labs, auditorium, administrative offices, a student health center, and parking. The master plan capitalizes on the natural topography, with buildings sited to mirror existing land forms, creating a Mediterranean hilltop environment with plazas, courtyards and paseso. A loop road defines the campus core, limiting traffic and parking to the perimeter, and maintaining over 50 percent of the site as open space.

Project Data

103 acres

Program and Highlights

Academic buildings
Student housing
Courtyards, paseos and plazas
Mediterranean architectural vernacular
Maximizes the use of natural topography
Appropriate relationship to surrounding land uses
50% open space


1997 ASLA and Landscape Architecture Magazine, Planning and Urban Design Merit Award

1997 ASLA/Southern California Chapter, Quality of Life Award

Andrea Adelson, “Zen and the Liberal Arts,” The New York Times, April 8, 2001

Todd S. Purdum, "New West Coast College, Born of the Far East," The New York Times, July 25, 2001

Susan R Bleznick, “Hillside Campus Emerges Like Tuscan Village,” Architectural Record, July 2000

Jessica Borrell, “University Design Inspired by the Mediterranean” StoneWorld, October 2002

Dana Bushee, “University to dedicate trail, hold open house” Los Angeles Times, June 2, 2000

Elvira Cordileone, “Tuscan-style University Suits California’s Hills,” The Toronto Star, July 28, 2001

Elaine Gale, “Buddhist U” The Los Angeles Times, October 2, 1999

Allison Milionis, “Peaceful Campus,” ArchitectureWeek, June 26, 2002

John Pulley, “Soka U. Tries to Reinvent College” The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 19, 2001

Students congregating on the Student Center steps
Completed Residential Precinct

Associate Architect: Summit Architects, Inc.
Structural Engineer: Taylor & Syfan
Civil Engineering: RBF Consulting
MEP: Davidovich & Associates
General Contractor: Swinerton Walberg
Lighting: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design
Data Technology Design: Superior Enterprise Consulting Group
Technology: Information Technology Design
Landscape Architect: SWA Group