Packing a couple thousand graduate students into 11.4 acres is no easy feat, particularly when it involves knitting 840 units of campus housing into a dense urban framework without overshadowing the old-growth neighborhood next door (Westwood Village, circa 1922). Working in partnership with Swinerton Builders, planners at Van Tilburg, Banvard & Soderbergh scored high honors for this refreshing infill project that bears little resemblance to typical student quarters.

While the center of the seven-building project is marked by classical styling and a quad with lawns (an appropriately collegiate touch), the architecture turns Spanish colonial on the outside, incorporating features such as wrought-iron balconies, tile, and plaster detailing, in deference to the original design guidelines for Westwood Village. Landscaping on the periphery is also in context, trading the manicured look for native plants. Arched breezeways provide street access to the central courtyard of each building.

Meanwhile, the site plan exploits a significant grade change, carving two levels of underground parking into the parcel's sloping terrain. Along the project's southwest edge, where the entrances to two podium garages sit at grade, the building mass is downscaled, and rows of two- and three-story townhomes create an enclosure for the podium courtyards. The lower profile of these walk-up units allows more southern exposure into the courtyards and serves as a visual segue to the residential neighborhood across the street.

See all 2007 Builder's Choice Award Winners

Category: Best site plan up to 20 acres;

Entrant/Architect/Land planner/Interior designer: Van Tilburg, Banvard & Soderbergh, Santa Monica, Calif.;

Builder: Swinerton Builders, Los Angeles;

Developer: UCLA, Los Angeles;

Landscape architect: LRM, Culver City, Calif.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.