In May, an audience of nearly 100 gathered for the official dedication of the Killingsworth Plaza in honor of Edward A. Killingsworth, the long-time master plan architect and great friend of the university, who passed away July 6, 2004, at the age of 86.
While the plaza, located on the first level at the front entrance of Brotman Hall, serves as a dedicated reminder of Killingsworth’s contributions to CSULB, most, if not all, would say everywhere you look on campus, his imprint can be found. Whether it’s the University Student Union, the Steve and Nini Horn Center, the parking structures, the central plant, the University Bookstore, the International House for foreign students housing, the University Library or the ever-present peach trees, Killingsworth’s influence is there, either by way of actual design, renovation or initial concept.
“Though I worked with Ed on a frequent basis, I was simply in awe of the respect and admiration that his fellow architects had for him,” said Scott Charmack, CSULB’s associate vice president for Physical Planning and Facilities Management, who worked with Killingsworth for 25 years. “He wasn’t the architect of record for most of the buildings on campus, but he had a huge impact on the design of every building built here for the past 40 years. Luckily for this campus, that period constitutes the bulk of the building on this campus.”
Charmack also points out that many of the 23 CSU system campuses have had many different master plan architects, more than 100 in all. Yet, CSULB was fortunate to have just one – Ed Killingsworth. That single, steady hand allowed the university to stay the course and with his guidance, the continuity of architectural design, color and landscaping often have been noted and CSULB has been named as one of the most beautiful campuses in the state.
Born in Taft in 1917, Killingsworth moved with his family to Long Beach in 1921. He received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Southern California in 1940, graduating with Cum Laude honors and receiving the AIA medal for the highest academic record in architecture over the span of his college term.
In the 1950s the State Division of Architecture controlled all design on campus, but oversaw so many poorly designed buildings that it was replaced by private architects. In 1962, Killingsworth’s firm was selected as CSULB’s Master Planning Architect.
His goal in the early days was to create a campus composed of buildings of simple basic design with timeless architecture. It was difficult to achieve in the 1960s, not because there was a shortage of architectural ideas, but rather a shortage of funds. When he was first appointed as the master plan architect, Killingsworth went right to the source – the students – spending much of his time getting their thoughts as to just how the campus should be developed. In large part, that is why CSULB is such a student-friendly campus today.
One of the more distinctive innovations Killingsworth helped bring to the campus was the International Sculpture Symposium in 1965. This was a collection of eight sculptors who came to campus in summer 1965 to create sculptures for the school over a six-week period.
His love for the campus was evident in many ways, not the least of which is the fact that he never charged for his services as master plan architect.
Although the internationally acclaimed Killingsworth designed many extraordinary structures throughout the world, it seemed as though CSULB held the most special of places in his heart. After all, he had called Long Beach home since arriving in 1921 at the age of 4.
“The entire Killingsworth family – Laura, sons Greg and Kim, and grandchildren and great grandchildren – are so appreciative of this generous tribute, a plaza graced by the wonderful open space, sycamores and peach trees he so adored,” said Cam Killingsworth, his former daughter-in-law. “Ed treasured this campus full of life, hope and the future … the pages of young lives yet to be written.”