The University of California Board of Regents' Committee on
Grounds and Buildings today approved UCLA's financial plan
for the proposed Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference and Guest
Center on the Westwood campus. The full board is expected to
"I am confident that you will agree that this project is
vital for UCLA, that it has a solid business plan and that it
is the best alternative to meet UCLA's goals," UCLA
Chancellor Gene Block told the committee. "Our
goals are to foster the exchange of ideas, contribute to the
preeminence of UCLA as one of the world's great research
universities and allow UCLA to compete with other top-tier
institutions for major academic conferences."
The center would be constructed at the center of campus on
property currently occupied by Parking Structure 6,
utilizing part of a gift from alumni and longtime
supporters Meyer and Renee Luskin. The proposed seven-story
building would include 25,000 square feet of meeting space
and 250 guest rooms. Complete details are available at a website dedicated
to the project.
The financial plan approved by regents conservatively
assumes UCLA would achieve 70 percent occupancy by the
third year, in line with the high rates enjoyed by area
commercial hotels. A room rate of $185, based on today's
market conditions and not including conference fees or
other costs, assures affordability. The Luskin Conference
and Guest Center would be self-sustaining, officials
stressed, not utilizing any state funds or tuition
Campus officials noted that a previous proposal that
had included creating a new Faculty Center has been
scaled back in size and cost, with a new location
shrinking the footprint of the building, partly since
it would not need to make space for a new faculty
center. The efficient design would make it easier to
construct and maintain.
The UCLA Academic Senate's Council on Planning and
Budget also recently reviewed the same documents as
the regents, determining that the financing model is
sound and that UCLA could benefit from additional
conference space and affordable guest rooms.
UCLA officials said more than 300 hotel rooms have
been eliminated from the Westwood market over the
past 15 years or so and over 500 additional rooms
will be eliminated in the future, following planned
redevelopments at several major area hotels.
The center would not compete with local hotels
for tourists and other business travelers because
guests must have business with the university in
order to book a room, similar to policies at the
UCLA Guest House and Tiverton House, which offer
a combined 161 rooms and are frequently at or
The project would help UCLA compete with other
top-tier universities for conferences,
officials said. Numerous faculty have expressed
the longstanding need for such a facility at a
recent hearing on the project's draft
Environmental Impact Report. Many further
described the challenge of finding affordable
rooms and meeting space on campus in a recent
UCLA Magazine article.
A variety of alternate sites was considered,
but the location at Parking Structure 6 was
ultimately found to be the most
cost-effective, without having any
substantial impact on parking, which is ample
in that section of campus.
The project will be funded by $40 million
of a previously announced gift from the
Luskins, both longtime UCLA supporters, and
approximately $112 million in financing.
Officials said the financing would have
minimal impact on UCLA's long-term debt.
In September, the regents will be asked
to consider final design plans for the
project along with a final environmental
impact report that was prepared with
public input at two hearings on campus
over the past year. Pending final
approvals, construction would begin
around summer of 2013, with completion
expected by 2016.