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The Journey of Utopia

(Pablo Campos Calvo-Sotelo; Novascience Publishers, 2005)

Journey of UtopiaAuthor:
Pablo Campos Calvo-Sotelo
PhD Architect

Novascience Publishers, Hauppauge, NY


“It is necessary, with proud aspirations, to try to carry out this great work so that this university is one of the foremost of the world… My golden dream is to see in Madrid, created during my reign and for the good of our country’s culture, a university renowned for being a model educational center.”

King Alfonso XIII
Before the Construction Board of the Ciudad Universitaria (University-City)
(Madrid, Spain June 1, 1927)

The publication in English of Pablo Campos Calvo-Sotelo’s The Journey of Utopia: The Story of the First American-Style Campus in Europe provides American readers the opportunity to explore a striking instance of the influence of North American high culture on that of Europe, rather than the reverse current that we have long regarded as the norm. This cultural exchange involved the adoption of the North American university campus as a model for new European institutions in the early twentieth century.

The government of Spain sent a committee of experts to the United States and Canada to evaluate the design effectiveness of fifteen institutions of higher learning as paradigms for the new universities of Spain.

Some three-quarters of a century after that survey took place the author retraced the journey of that committee in America order to write his history of their work. His book, having established him as the leading authority on his subject, has not only won prestigious awards but also put him in position to receive the commission to design a wholly new campus for the University of Salamanca. He has, then, not only contemplated and analyzed his subject but he is also contributing to its continuing history.

Fil Hearn
Professor of the History of Art & Architecture
Director of Architectural Studies
University of Pittsburgh

In noting the rise of distance learning possibilities, however, I think it essential to reinforce Pablo Campos’ recognition of the powerful role that a campus, with buildings for classrooms, laboratories, libraries and student residence halls, plays in the life of a university. Here I must note that earlier this year, Dr. Pablo Campos presented his master plan for the Villamayor Campus of the University of Salamanca. It is not surprising that the New York Chapter Committee on Architecture for Education of the American Institute of Architects, which sponsored the presentation, recognized Dr. Pablo Campos “for his research into the impact of university environments on both the learning process and surrounding urban communities.”

It was most appropriate then that in March 2003, it was at the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, in Washington Square, that Dr. Pablo Campos presented his first, Spanish, edition of his book. Indeed, NYU was one of the several universities that the Commission of Investigation visited in 1927. That “The Journey of Utopia” describes a venture inspired by King Alfonso XIII, grandfather of King Juan Carlos I, is particularly meaningful to me.

For all these reasons, then, I salute Pablo Campos on his pioneering study and trust that it will spark still further ties between and among universities in Canada, Latin America, the United States and Spain.

John Brademas
President Emeritus
New York University, NY

A Transcendental Journey

I have here an excellent book, the fruit of research that was indispensable for learning in depth about the origin of one of the most important urban and cultural endeavors in the Spanish society of the twentieth century. The pages of this book study the trip that was made to the United States of America in 1927 in order to see the most modern university and hospital centers with the purpose of adopting those models that could serve for the construction of the future University-City of Madrid.

The author of this dense and synthesized volume, the architect Pablo Campos Calvo-Sotelo, whose Doctoral Thesis addressed the architecture and urban planning of Spanish universities, is a passionate and enthusiastic researcher of this little studied topic. There is nobody better than Pablo Campos Calvo-Sotelo to reconstruct, by way of a very detailed analysis of the existing documentation, and then, by repeating he himself, that same aged itinerary that the four members of the Construction Board of the University-City of Madrid had traveled over two months around the North American territory. The product could not be any more positive and exciting for anyone curious about the components of what the Board called a “scientific pilgrimage”.

Antonio Bonet Correa
Director of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando

Journeying the journeys

Architects have always needed to travel. The exploration of everything architectural implies recognizing in situ or discovering on one’s own, without outside influences or biased suppression, the complex reality that makes architecture comprehensible along with its causes.

In all true journeys, the architect renews and reconsiders what he perhaps knew by intuition, but had overlooked.

One must take those journeys.

What Pablo Campos discovers and describes to us is the journey of a group of scientists and an architect. And it is worthwhile to read it, or to take the trip again, like an architect
The intuitive search of a formal model represented in the American campuses undertaken by the traveling protagonists of the journey that Pablo Campos narrates, hazily pursued an idea sponsored by Alfonso XIII bounded by immediate interests of trying to promote a better future for his country with a university conceived as an ideal city. The utopia.

In 2002, we, the readers of this book by Pablo Campos, could recall that journey of 1927, guided by its ‘reconstructor’. And with him, we follow the adventure of rediscovering their intentions, of imagining the accumulation of experiences of those professors that were searching for an ideal for the Spanish university.

Miguel Ángel Baldellou Santolaria
PhD Architect
Chair Department of Architectural Composition
School of Architecture – Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

Architecture, Knowledge, and Utopia

I can testify not only Pablo Campos´ belonging to the dedicated sect of the utopia but also that he professes in it with the most serious level of responsibility and commitment: that of master or apostle of humanizing knowledge.

I hope to have touched upon with these words some of the threads of this profound book, which reveals itself- and its one of its charms- so polished and brilliant on the surface, but ends up putting us, smoothly and courteously before a not so pleasing mirror. The protagonists of this great example, from its promoter, King Alfonso XIII, to those members of the expedition in search of “the City of Knowledge”, without forgetting the chronicler, Pablo Campos, all of them embarked on this episode of the journey, that never ends, of utopia. They deserve that active and responsible form of gratitude that consists in following their example, in converting us into travel companions on their trip towards a better world and humanity, in other words, more humane.

José Luis García Barrientos
PhD Philologist
Researcher – Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas - CSIC

March 1st, 2006

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