Introduction to the Visual Arts

The Secret Architecture of Long Beach State

banner for page headers with the text "Summer '18 - Go Beach"

image of a secret archaeological map

The Campus

The hilltop portion on the 322-acre campus overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Eighty permanent buildings house the various colleges, 63 academic departments and programs, 24 centers, four institutes and four clinics.

The student-operated University Student Union is located at the crossroads of the campus, providing a focal point for the total campus community. Brotman Hall, near the Union, houses many centralized campus services and administrative offices. There are also specialized facilities for Engineering Technology, Art, Industrial and Interior Design, Music, Molecular and Life Sciences, and Nursing as well as the International House student residence hall and meeting complex.

A state‑of‑the‑art building for the College of Business Administration, complete with decision‑support laboratories, multi‑media capability, and modern lecture halls, opened in 1991. The Department of Dance occupies quarters in the largest and best‑equipped instructional dance facility in the nation.

The striking beauty of the campus owes much to the planting of 3,200 Helen Borcher flowering peach trees that were donated by the citizens of Long Beach. Secluded landscape areas and buildings of appropriate scale help maintain a learning environment that encourages small group identification and personal privacy in the midst of 37,000 individuals sharing the same site, on what is essentially a large urban campus.

In 1965, the International Sculpture Symposium contributed 9 monumental pieces and designs to the University. These works received credits in 21 national and international publications, and in 1972 additional community funds in the form of a trust provided for the completion of the Carlson Memorial Tower, designed by French sculptor Andre Bloc.

The campus sculpture collection has continued to expand, with the addition of works by artists such as Guy Dill, Michael Davis, Robert Irwin, Bryan Hunt, and Woods Davy. These acquisitions were made possible by private donations and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts to the University Art Museum.

photo of a map with a magnifying glass on top of it

Campus Maps

When you visit the Campus Maps page, you will find not 1, but 15 different maps of the University Campus!

The many maps of Long Beach State can tell you where you can charge your electric vehicle, find a gender-neutral bathroom, hydrate, or lactate. Yet even all those maps don’t tell you where you can smoke at our smoke-free campus. For that map you have to turn to the Daily 49er:

illustration of a monorail system buried underneath San Francisco Bay

A City

322 acres, 80 buildings, 63 departments… Long Beach State is a small city.

Each of those 80 buildings has a story. A history. Some are under construction now. Some opened very recently. Others are decades old.

Have you been inside every building on campus?
What building on campus do you spend the most time in?
Have you been inside every room in that building?
Every closet?
Every secret passageway?
Do you have a favorite secret passage on campus? A favorite shortcut?
A secret spot to study? Or hangout? Or smoke?

photo of a spiral staircase leading into a basement

The Secret Architecture of Long Beach State University

This activity is an invitation for you to tell a story. It might be mostly fiction. It might be largely fact. It is a chance to pick some spot, some place, some building on campus. And dig deeper. It is a chance to look. To look more carefully and more deeply than you have. A chance to see a familiar place more clearly. You might dig deeper into the history of the building. Interview someone in an office. Or ask students how they use, or how they feel about the building.

You might dig deeper into your own imagination. Why does it have that curious corner? That blank space? That stain? What happened here? What goes on here, or went on here, that most people on campus don’t know about. Your campus imaginings might be reality-based, like the Campus’ Native American heritage. Or fantasy-based, like the sites of alien landings, or abductions, or that time an ET ran for ASI President.

image of a secret art gallery under a street cover

What is Storytelling Anyway?

As you draw and tell your story, yes, have fun! But also think about the nature of storytelling. How we communicate values and ideas. And also about the paradoxical idea that there is often more “truth” in fiction than in non-fiction.

What do I mean by that? Here’s a simple example: think about 2 books, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, and iOS, The Missing Manual. The 1st book is completely fiction. It’s just a bunch of stuff some author made up. The 2nd is filled with facts. Those facts may be useful to you. They might help you do something with your phone. But they will not satisfy the hunger in your soul. They will not answer any of your most profound questions. The 1st book may be fiction, yet it contains some of the most powerful human truth ever written. See if your Secret Architecture adventure can be fun, and whimsical, and inspired, but also say something you think is important.

people in an  interior space inspired by sacred geometry


Your Secret Architecture story can be a combination of words & drawings. If you like drawing with computer software or making precise drawings with a pencil, you can do that. If you don’t, you might just take a pen or pencil and make some loose sketches to reveal the secret parts of campus you want to expose to the light of day.

You are not limited to words & drawings. If you want to use dance, or music, or poetry, or something else, to express your space, you can do that too. Speaking of poetry, have you been to Special Collections in the University Library? Among many other things there, you can find a handwritten letter from poet Charles Bukowski to Long Beach State faculty member Gerald Locklin about driving past the campus in the middle of the night and wanting to stop in and see if Locklin was around and what he was doing.

map of secret areas in Doom

Post on Medium

Post your words & drawings, or photos, or video, or whatever you choose to create, on Medium.

Make it real: You do not need to say “this is my post for this week’s activity.” You do not need to answer questions about what you have created. Simply make a real post on Medium about The Secret Tunnel in the Basement of the History Building, or about whose cryogenically-frozen body is buried underneath Brotman Hall.

image of a map making a face