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UCLA’s new Conference Center sets standards in architecture and meeting productivity

Mar 15, 2016

LOS ANGELES, CA - Dynamic design, top technology, and a legendary university’s commitment to excellence drive the vision behind the UCLA Meyer & Renee Luskin Conference Center. Now rising near the historic center of the UCLA campus, and opening in August 2016, the new conference center is carefully and creatively planned to provide a highly productive, inspiring and sustainable meeting environment. Thought leaders, professional meeting planners and conference guests will gather here, bringing their unique perspective and a dedication to finding solutions to the complex issues facing the world community. At the UCLA Luskin Conference Center, they will find the technical resources, modern comforts, natural beauty and inspiring design that foster achievement.

The Luskin Conference Center’s design inspiration is grounded in UCLA’s great Romanesque Revival buildings of Royce Hall and Powell Library. These majestic buildings, opened in 1929, are marked by their formal massing and composition, brick and stone materials, enhanced stone detail found in their cornice lines and surrounding their entry portals, and Renaissance Moorish patterns in the Library’s wall and ceiling stenciling suggested in the Conference Center’s carpet patterns.

The Luskin Conference Center is conceived as an “H-shaped” building. Exterior cast stone and brick details harken Royce Hall and Powell Library. A taller guestroom tower features 254 guestrooms and links to two lower north- and south-oriented wings with conference, reception and dining spaces atop a full subterranean basement, which houses parking for 125 cars. The guestrooms are impeccably designed to provide a sustainable, comfortable and productive space. Warm gold, cream and wood accents reflect the surrounding trees and California sunlight. The property’s “H” shape defines and shelters two primary outdoor spaces: An olive tree-shaded Reception and Entry Court – which faces east, welcoming California’s morning sunrise, and a spacious outdoor Conference Hall Rooftop Terrace.

Taking advantage of the beautiful Southern California climate, the Luskin Conference Center’s landscape and architecture are designed to accommodate a seamless flow of indoor/outdoor functions. Four striking outdoor function areas include the Reception and Entry Court, accommodating pre- and post-lecture receptions of up to 100 guests. A deck adjacent to the main dining room hosts receptions of 80 guests and a patio off Centennial Hall accommodates up to 200 conferees during breaks. The fourth and largest outdoor function area is the Centennial Hall Rooftop Terrace, accommodating over 600 people in a variety of outdoor event configurations.

Inspired Meeting Spaces

There are 25 separate meeting rooms, each named to reinforce the Luskin Conference Center’s mission to educate and inspire. Names such as Artistry, Visionary, Optimist, Alliance and Synergy mark the rooms and each displays a quote from global and historic leaders, ranging from Sun Tzu, Aristotle and Thoreau, to such luminaries as Martin Luther King Jr., Ansel Adams and Steve Jobs, adding the perspective of society’s most creative and committed social, technological and artistic leaders.

The Luskin Conference Center is designed to accommodate a wide range of groups and configurations up to 750 attendees. The multi-level conference wings and sub-divisible Centennial Hall allow multiple groups – up to six – to comfortably use the Center simultaneously while maintaining adequate privacy and separation. Each of the three main Conference Center wings is organized around a primary meeting room capable of accommodating 120 conferees or, in the case of the ground level of the south wing, a tiered classroom with seating capacity of 90. Each of the three conference wings has a series of smaller breakout rooms, accommodating approximately 40. Each wing has a boardroom seating from 20 to 40 individuals.

The main Centennial Hall, with a seating capacity of 750, can be subdivided into two major subspaces, each accommodating 350 people. Alternatively, the Hall may be subdivided into four smaller subspaces, each accommodating 170 people. The Centennial Hall’s four subspaces—ideal for social functions and large meeting groups--are each topped with a vaulted plaster ceiling which features multi-pane glass that can be strikingly illuminated. Depending on the time of day and function, the light color in these illuminated glass ceilings can be “tuned” to provide a range of color values from warm daylight to candlelight to UCLA “Blue & Gold.”

The Luskin Conference Center technology and protocols reflect UCLA’s technical leadership. High speed WiFi is available throughout the center with systems that allow the facility to be constantly monitored. The guestroom and meeting room security system will use a smart card for access control and use history. When staff and guests use their card at the connected entries and elevator banks, their cards are refreshed with upgrades to their access protocol. All internal card readers will be wireless, resulting in significant installation cost and energy savings.

The Conference Center will have centralized audiovisual controls. The Center’s background music and paging system, room reservation system, and the building data distribution frame will be centralized, which will provide controlled interconnection with other rooms and systems. Simple touch-screens will provide control of audio and visual within all individual conference and meeting spaces. “Intelligent inputs” will take the headache out of “Bring Your Own Device” connections: any laptop’s signal, once connected, will be up-converted automatically to the correct signal type and resolution so that it will display correctly on the installed projection systems.

Luminous Environmentally-friendly Interior Design

Environmental concerns informed the selection of interior materials with emphasis on use of recycled and locally-sourced materials. The signature sequence-matched walnut paneling, featured in the Center’s main Reception/Living Room and Centennial Hall, is sourced from walnut logs cut from recycled storm-felled trees. All of the Conference Center’s interior spaces are infused with natural light. Patterns and colors in the guestrooms and guestroom circulation are taken from the natural landscape palate – an olive branch pattern is abstracted in the carpeting and signage design.

Optimizing of material resources and operational sustainability were important goals of the design process. The Luskin Conference Center strives to achieve a LEED Gold Certification, utilizing the latest design and construction practices and technologies to conserve water and energy, and to maximize the use of recycled and renewable materials. This will be accomplished by water-efficient landscape irrigation and plumbing fixtures that yield 30% savings over baseline code requirements. The project’s energy use is targeted to a 20% reduction over baseline code energy requirements, incorporating elements such as high-efficiency mechanical systems, lighting controls, and LED lighting. All materials used in the interior of the building are low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). Ten percent of the new building materials are comprised of recycled material and 10% are procured from within 500 miles. Fifty percent of the wood used on the project is FSC certified from sustainably managed forests. The construction team is diverting approximately 90% of construction waste from landfill through the use of advanced recycling techniques.

UCLA’s new Conference Center sets standards in architecture and meeting productivity
UCLA Meyer & Renee Luskin Conference Center

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