Imagine sitting in a lecture hall, and, as you listen to the professor drone on, your eyes glance around the windowless room and you are suddenly overcome with the feeling that the building you are sitting in has been a major icon for social change in the late 20th century.
If this happens to you, don’t worry, the professor’s lectures are not driving you insane; you could just be attending class at Embarcadero Hall, UCSB’s new lecture hall scheduled to open in January 2003. Located across from Woodstock’s Pizza in Isla Vista, the hall is being constructed in the historic Bank of America building, a focal point in the controversy surrounding the anti-war protests of the 1960s and ’70s.
UCSB expects the hall to open in time for Winter Quarter classes. The renovations took roughly one year and cost approximately $1.6 million.
“The hall is mainly for general assignments, so it will be similar to I.V. Theater in that respect,” said Celeste Manolas, the project manager for UCSB.
The building has a large auditorium that seats 250 people, two smaller classrooms and a computer lab. It is also equipped with sliding chalkboards, projection screens and DVD technology, and is wired for computer presentations.
“One thing we are really excited about is that we created a new entry plaza outside the building with bike racks, and I think the students will really enjoy that,” Manolas said.
In the 1960s Isla Vista was considered second only to Berkeley for radicalism and commitment to social change. On the night of February 25, 1970 several students, angry because Bank of America was reputedly financing the Vietnam War, stormed the streets and set the Isla Vista Bank of America building ablaze, burning it to the ground. The following spring the bank was rebuilt with bunkers in front.
According to E.B. Hansen, a local resident, the riots “allowed us to mature faster. By the time I was 16 or 17, I was exposed to situations and scenarios that you kids have to wait until you are 18 or 19 to see.”
A second riot broke out in April 1970 and the bank was set on fire again. Responding to a request by Associated Student President Bill James to put out the fires, a student named Kevin Moran ventured out toward the bank. While attempting to quell the fires, Kevin was shot and killed by Santa Barbara police on the night of April 18, 1970.
“The most despicable thing about the Kevin Moran death was that the police first claimed it was a sniper, and for two days had descriptions of the sniper, until they finally admitted they were at fault,” said Carmen Lodise, an Isla Vista resident and activist.
To pay respects, a plaque was placed in front of the building that reads, “For social change, fair play and peace. Kevin P. Moran, April 18, 1970.”
The plaque to Kevin Moran still stands out front to honor his life, a small metal monument to the chaos that engulfed I.V. 30 years ago.
In addition to being a focal point for social uprisings, the building has housed a diverse range of businesses including an arcade, a record store, a nightclub and, most recently, the Isla Vista Brewing Company. All of the businesses eventually went bankrupt.