- Why is UCLA proposing a conference and guest center?
- Why did you choose the new location at Parking Structure 6?
- When will construction begin? When will the center open?
- How much will it cost?
- How can UCLA afford to build a conference and guest center when tuition is increasing and state support for public universities is dwindling?
- What was the approval process for the project, and how was public input gathered?
- Can a conference center with 250 guest rooms succeed financially?
- Won’t this increase traffic on campus?
- What happened to plans to build the center on the site of the current Faculty Center?
- What about neighbors’ concerns?
- Previously, UCLA said rates would be $270 per night. Why is it $185 now?
- We’re visiting L.A. for our vacation. Can we get a room while we’re in town sightseeing?
- What if an academic department wants to host a conference but can’t afford the center’s rates?
- Who are the Luskins?
- Will this conference center take business away from the Faculty Center, Covel Commons and the UCLA Guest House?
- How will you compensate for the lost parking currently offered by Parking Structure 6?
Q: Why is UCLA proposing a conference and guest center?
A: This project directly supports UCLA’s academic mission to foster the scholarly exchange of ideas, enhances our image as one of the world’s great research universities and allows us to compete with other top-tier institutions for major academic conferences. It also fills a demand for additional and more modern conference space on campus where students and faculty can exchange ideas with scholars from around the world, civic leaders and the general public.
Q: Why did you choose the new location at Parking Structure 6?
A: A central campus location makes sense for visitors to campus, providing easy access to popular sites like Ackerman Student Union and Pauley Pavilion, as well as to Westwood shops and restaurants. It’s also easy to locate for first-time visitors, near the main entrance to UCLA.
Q: When will construction begin? When will the center open?
A: Demolition of Parking Structure 6 and construction of the conference center is tentatively scheduled to begin in summer 2013, with completion expected in winter 2016.
Q: How much will it cost?
A: The preliminary project cost is estimated at $152 million. A generous $40 million donation from longtime UCLA supporters Meyer and Renee Luskin will be supplemented by approximately $112 million in financing, to be paid off by the center’s own operating revenues. Additionally, the project proposal includes a $6 million catering kitchen, covered by campus funds, that will serve other campus locations.
Q: How can UCLA afford to build a conference and guest center when tuition is increasing and state support for public universities is dwindling?
A: The project will not utilize any tuition revenues or state funding
Q: What was the approval process for the project, and how was public input gathered?
A: : The University of California Board of Regents approved the project, including its design and budget, as well as an environmental impact report, in 2012 following an exhaustive review of the project. Public comment was gathered throughout this process at several public meetings held on campus to help determine the scope of the environmental impact report.
Q: Can a conference center with 250 guest rooms succeed financially?
A: UCLA conducted an exhaustive analysis of market trends and found that the average occupancy rate for West Los Angeles hotels is over 75 percent and growing — the highest rate in the region. Once UCLA begins attracting more conferences to campus, the demand will grow. Currently, when UCLA hosts a conference, most of those attending seek accommodations off campus. Our guest center will offer competitive rates, along with full hotel services like a restaurant, fitness center and business center. Its close proximity to Westwood will attract more consumers to local shops and restaurants. Our current proposed room rate is $185 per night, compared with average rates in the area that are well over $200.
Q: Won’t this increase traffic on campus?
A: Actually, last year UCLA experienced its lowest traffic levels since record-keeping began over 20 years ago. The number of average daily trips on campus has dropped more than 11 percent in the past four years alone, with rush hour trips on a steady decline, even as traffic increased county-wide. That’s due in part to our extensive Commuter Vanpool Program. Also, an expanded turnabout to be constructed in front of the new conference center will make for easier traffic flow and will accommodate up to seven buses.
Q: What happened to plans to build the center on the site of the current Faculty Center?
A: The earlier proposal was designed, in part, to enhance and improve the existing Faculty Center. We listened to our faculty, many of whom have strong personal connections to the existing structure, and decided a re-evaluation was necessary. We have identified a new location that does not compromise our vision for the project and has the added benefit of being centrally located near the gateway to campus. The Faculty Center is independently operated by the Faculty Center Association, and not the university. Its long-term future will be addressed separately.
Q: What about neighbors’ concerns?
A: We surveyed our neighbors and found no widespread opposition to the project, with concerns largely focused on traffic issues. In fact, we were very pleased to learn that our neighbors think we’re a good neighbor and that they have a very positive image of UCLA.
Q: Previously, UCLA said rates would be $270 per night. Why is it $185 now?
A: The previously referenced rate included food and conference fees and also factored in inflation, out to a completion date of 2015. This made for inaccurate comparisons with current hotel rates. The $185 rate applies to rooms only and represents what we would charge if the center was opened today, allowing for a fair and accurate comparison with existing area hotel rates.
Q: We’re visiting L.A. for our vacation. Can we get a room while we’re in town sightseeing?
A: No. All guests must have business with the university in order to book a reservation.
Q: What if an academic department wants to host a conference but can’t afford the center’s rates?
A: The Luskins have provided a $10 million endowment to assist academic departments in hosting conferences.
Q: Who are the Luskins?
A: Meyer and Renee Luskin are alumni and longtime supporters with a passion for UCLA as a public resource and agent for social mobility. Their support helped establish the Meyer and Renee Luskin School of Public Affairs and the Luskin Center for Innovation. Their generosity has extended to endowments for undergraduate student scholarships and graduate student fellowships, a children’s clinic at Santa Monica–UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, the alumni association and numerous advisory boards. Meyer Luskin is a member of the UCLA Foundation’s board of directors
Q: Will this conference center take business away from the Faculty Center, Covel Commons and the UCLA Guest House?
A: There is a wide range of needs on campus for meeting space and guest rooms of varying prices and in different settings. While some meeting space and a few guest rooms already exist on campus, those are both in very limited supply, and there is a demand for more modern facilities. This project responds to a long-standing need for UCLA to have a major conference and guest center on campus.
Q: How will you compensate for the lost parking currently offered by Parking Structure 6?
A: UCLA has its highest density of parking in the central campus area, with ample available parking spots within close walking distance of Pauley Pavilion, the Wooden Center and Ackerman Student Union. The new conference center will also include 125 underground parking spaces upon completion.