Hospitality Case Study: Hospitality, California Style

In the heart of the UCLA campus, a LEED Platinum conference center inspires collaboration and innovation.

By Anne Cosgrove
From the August 2018 Issue

The resources of a world-class university, technical connectivity, and a commitment to sustainability distinguish the UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center, located in the heart of the UCLA campus. In operation since August 2016, the 295,000 square foot conference center features 254 guest rooms, 25,000 square feet of meeting space, a restaurant and lounge, and the many advantages exclusive to one of the world’s most acclaimed universities.

The UCLA Luskin Conference Center was planned to set new standards and an exceptional vision for the conference industry as a state-of-the-art learning environment, welcoming scholars, innovators, and thought leaders to debate and shape ideas that lead to world-changing solutions.

Complementing the indoor seating at Plateia, the full-service restaurant and lounge at the UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Center, guests enjoy al fresco patio seating year-round. (Photo by Matthew Millman)

The stated mission of the Luskin Conference Center is: To offer an inspired learning environment to the University and greater global community in a thoughtfully designed space that fosters excellence, engagement, inspiration, and breakthroughs. The Luskin Conference Center will draw the best academic minds, medical innovators, scientific researchers, political leaders, and social visionaries. More than a gathering place, the conference center will be an incubator of ideas, bringing great minds together in the center of the spectacular UCLA campus, in a new facility designed to optimize the best in technology, and enabling productive, inspiring meetings and far-reaching results.

No tuition dollars or state funding were used to construct the conference center. This self-sustaining facility was privately funded with a sizable gift donation of $40 million by Meyer and Renee Luskin, both UCLA graduates, and the remaining amount financed through both tax exempt and taxable bond indentures.

Purpose Built, With A Vision

The UCLA Luskin Conference Center is purpose-built to meet the stringent meeting facility and conference room requirements of IACC, a venue-based association that certifies residential and non-residential meetings and conference focused venues. This facility was 100% IACC certified at its opening in 2016.

The Center is designed to serve the needs of individuals and groups attending campus meetings or events; those doing business with UCLA entities; and University of California faculty, students, staff, UCLA alumni, as well as patients and visitors to the Reagan Medical Center, and other University affiliates. The staff carefully reviews each meeting and guest opportunity to ensure it is in alignment with the university’s mission of teaching, research and service.

And as part of its community focused efforts, the Luskin Conference Center is available to artists appearing as part of the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA. The facility provides rehearsal space, as well as lodging and dining for attendees of cultural and musical events at Royce Hall, which is located nearby.

Occupant-Centric Building Design

The Luskin Conference Center owes its formal architectural roots and inspiration to UCLA’s Romanesque Revival buildings: Royce Hall and Powell Library. These historic buildings, built in 1929, are marked by their formal massing and composition, brick and stone materials, punctured fenestration, and the enhanced stone detail found in their cornice lines and surrounding their entry portals. The new facility, designed by San Francisco architects, Hornberger + Worstell, builds on this architectural tradition, yet in a modern way that optimizes resources to create a sustainable, cost-effective environment.

In the heart of the UCLA campus, the Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center caters to scholars, innovators, and thought leaders affiliated with the university. With 25,000 square feet of meeting space and 254 guest rooms, the facility is designed to foster collaboration in a healthy, sustainable environment. (Photos by Matthew Millman)

Taking advantage of the southern California climate, the Luskin Center’s landscape and architecture are designed to accommodate a seamless flow of indoor/outdoor functions for up to 600 guests. There are 25 separate meeting rooms, each named to reinforce the Center’s mission to educate and inspire. Names such as Artistry, Catalyst, and Synergy, mark the rooms and quotes from leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Ansel Adams, and Steve Jobs add the perspective of society’s most creative and committed social, technological, and artistic leaders.

The Luskin Conference Center offers advanced connectivity, audiovisual equipment, and teleconference services, supported by a highly trained technical staff. From ergonomic chairs to ultra-high speed Wi-Fi throughout the conference center, every aspect of the meeting experience has been thoroughly and thoughtfully planned. The meetings industry is now a global one, and planners demand the most advanced technical services and bandwidth that can reach a broad spectrum of countries and audiences. Connectivity must also support a myriad of devices and apps used by planners, speakers and attendees via a range of mobile devices. And, global video conferencing is crucial to the center’s international mission.

Sustainability: Aim High

In accordance with the University of California’s comprehensive sustainability policy, the Luskin Conference Center adopted sustainability commitments and goals in all operational areas. The building design employed design and construction practices and technologies aimed at conserving water and energy, and to maximize the use of recycled and renewable materials, provide clean water and climate protection, and recycle waste.

Systems are in place to ensure environmentally preferable purchasing policies, sustainable food services and, using the UCLA transportation system, sustainable transit polices. The entire UCLA campus is tobacco-free and the university implemented several innovative programs to cut waste, recycle, conserve water, ensure clean air in all buildings, which are in effect at the conference center.

In June 2017, the facility was certified LEED Platinum for Building Design and Construction (BD+C): New Construction v3, LEED 2009 by the U.S. Green Building Council. The project earned 81 points out of the possible 110 points in the rating system.

The Luskin Conference Center was the second LEED Platinum certified building of its kind in California, and the sixth newly constructed venue of its kind in the nation. The facility is one of more than 30 LEED certified buildings at UCLA, including nine that hold the Platinum certification.

Economist Magali Delmas, both a faculty member and environmental economist for the UCLA Anderson School of Management, has performed extensive research on the benefits of LEED-certified buildings. In her work, she has found that buildings certified to LEED and Energy Star were 18-20% more efficient. She goes insofar as to say energy efficiency isn’t the only aspect but she also refers to another benefit she calls social dimension. “We feel and are more productive in LEED buildings. People feel better and listen more in rooms filled with natural light.”

As such, the design team of Hornberger & Worstell, were directed by university project leaders to do everything possible to incorporate sustainability in a meaningful way to minimize the environmental impact of not only the facility’s design but also its operation. Those environmentally sustainable features include:

The Luskin Center ballroom can be configured for banquets or theater-style. (Photos by Matthew Millman)
  • Materials in interior are low volatile organic compounds (VOC) content.
  • Large windows maximize the natural light into the interior. These are made of insulated glass to minimize heat, and therefore reduce energy consumption.
  • Structured steel frame that was made using 92% recycled material
  • Wood paneling throughout the building sourced from sustainably managed forests.
  • Locally manufactured exterior brick
  • Cool white roofing
  • Drought tolerant landscape that features native plants with have a simple irrigation system not from sprinkler but from satellite weather controller
  • High efficiency sinks, showers, and toilets
  • LED lighting, occupancy sensors, and high-efficiency mechanical systems
  • All electric vehicle fleet
  • Plant-based shower amenities
  • Green Seal certified cleaning chemicals
  • Minimum of 20% food products coming from sustainable, socially responsible, human sources
  • Linen-less restaurant tables and banquet set ups

Meanwhile, visitors and guests are encouraged to support the facility’s sustainability by participating in a towel reuse program and composting their waste.

Setting The Tone For A Vibrant Future

UCLA had long held an aspiration to develop a residential conference center for hosting international and national academic meetings as feasibility studies were done dating back to the early 1990s. The motivation behind building the UCLA Luskin Conference Center was to offer an inspired learning environment to the University and the greater global community in a thoughtfully-designed space that fosters excellence, engagement, inspiration and breakthroughs.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block stated in the opening of the facility in 2016, “The UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center is a place built expressly for leading experts in their respective fields to gather and create the future. The conference center will be an incubator for fresh thinking, deliberation and discovery that will lead to scientific and social progress. It will also serve as a gateway for first-time visitors to experience our campus and its vibrant community.”

Project Information

Name of Facility: UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center. Square Footage: 298,912. Budget: $162,425,000. Construction Timetable: January 2014 to July 2016. Cost Per Square Foot: $445. Facility Owner: UC Regents. In-House Project Manager/Facility Manager: UCLA Housing & Hospitality Services. Architect: Hornberger + Worstell; Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. General Contractor/Construction Manager: McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. Electrical and Mechanical Engineer: CB Engineers. Structural Engineer: Magnusson Klemencic Associates.

Product Information

Movable Walls/Wall Surfacing: Hufcor. Building Management System: Siemens. CAFM and/or CMMS Software: McCarthy Teamsight. Fire System Components: Notifier. Power Supply /Backup Power Equipment: Generac. Roofing: Sika. Windows/Curtainwalls: Wasau. Doors: ISEC. Elevators/Escalators: Otis.

hospitalCosgrove is Editor-in-Chief of Facility Executive magazine. To learn more about the UCLA Luskin Conference Center, visit the facility’s website.

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