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Landscape and Natural Systems

Landform and Topography
The site’s considerable topographic change lends drama and visual interest to the campus, while posing distinct accessibility challenges. The most prominent feature is the valley running east-west between 19th Avenue and Lake Merced Boulevard, just north of the academic core. The valley is the remnant of a steep, V-shaped canyon cut by a seasonal stream that flowed into Lake Merced. The canyon was filled in the early 1940s to form three terraces descending westward. The upper level, initially intended as a playfield, is the depression below 19th Avenue that currently contains construction trailers. Cox Stadium occupies the middle level. The lowest level, now occupied by the parking garage and Maloney Field, was originally maintained as a lawn and served as an additional playfield. Despite these alterations, the valley is still recognizable as part of the landform associated with Lake Merced, as illustrated in the accompanying diagram.

The campus generally slopes toward a low point at Maloney Field at the western end of the valley, the location of the former lakebed. With the recent acquisition of the University Park North property, providing connections across the valley becomes imperative.

Map showing landform and topography

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