UCLA acquires L.A.’s former Westside Pavilion to transform empty mall into the UCLA Research Park

UCLA Newsroom | 

Key takeaways

  • The UCLA Research Park will occupy the former mall site, a 700,000-square-foot property 2 miles from the Westwood campus.
  • The research park will house the California Institute for Immunology and Immunotherapy at UCLA and the UCLA Center for Quantum Science and Engineering, as well as programs across the disciplines.
  • This acquisition was made possible in part by an intended $500 million investment from the state of California, with $200 million already allocated.
  • The California Institute for Immunology and Immunotherapy is also supported by a group of founding donors led by Meyer Luskin, Dr. Gary Michelson, Dr. Eric Esrailian, Dr. Arie Belldegrun, Sean Parker and Michael Milken.

UCLA has acquired the former Westside Pavilion shopping mall, which the university will transform into the UCLA Research Park — bringing together scholars and industry experts from around the world to create a nexus for discovery and innovation that will benefit Southern California and beyond.

“This acquisition will be absolutely transformative for UCLA, our great city and the world. Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Legislature helped make this possible through a generous state investment, and we are deeply thankful for their support,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “We will remake the empty former mall into a state-of-the-art hub of research and innovation that will bring scholars from different higher education institutions, corporate partners, government agencies and startups together to explore new areas of inquiry and achieve breakthroughs that will serve our global society.”

The 700,000-square-foot property, located 2 miles south of the Westwood campus, will initially host two multidisciplinary research centers: the California Institute for Immunology and Immunotherapy at UCLA and the UCLA Center for Quantum Science and Engineering.

The new UCLA Research Park is made possible in part by an intended $500 million investment, with $200 million already allocated, from the state of California to establish and fund the immunology and immunotherapy institute at UCLA. The institute is also supported by a group of founding donors from the biotechnology, academic, entrepreneurship and philanthropic communities led by Meyer Luskin, Dr. Gary Michelson, Dr. Eric Esrailian, Dr. Arie Belldegrun, Sean Parker and Michael Milken.

 

In addition, Google — which previously leased part of the property — helped enable and support UCLA’s acquisition. Favorable real estate market conditions helped create the historic opportunity for the university as well.

“California is the epicenter of global innovation — from the creation of the internet to the dominance of artificial intelligence, humanity’s future happens here first,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom. “Leveraging the next waves of technology and science — quantum computing and the immense potential of immunology — the UCLA Research Park will cement California’s global economic, scientific and technological dominance into the 22nd century, and beyond.”

“This purchase exemplifies the remarkable collaboration between the University of California, the state of California and our partners in the private sector,” said UC President Michael Drake. “We’re grateful to Gov. Newsom and the state Legislature for their continued support. Investments like this help ensure that the University can continue to thrive and serve people across California.”

“The California Institute for Immunology and Immunotherapy has the potential to reshape the future of science and medicine,” said the institute’s founding donors. “We are proud to join UCLA, UC President Drake, Gov. Newsom and the state Legislature in helping make California a world leader in decoding the still-mysterious workings of the human immune system and translating breakthrough discoveries into lifesaving immunotherapies. Launching a research park that joins biosciences with quantum science and engineering — as well as other emerging technologies, like next-generation artificial intelligence — is a once-in-a-generation event, and we are honored to be a part of it all.”

At the 700,000-square-foot UCLA Research Park site, scholars, industry partners, government agencies, startups and students will explore new areas of inquiry and achieve breakthroughs that serve global society.

The acquisition caps a multiyear effort by Dr. John Mazziotta, vice chancellor for health sciences and CEO of UCLA Health, to establish the institute at UCLA and provide it with leading-edge facilities.

“UCLA’s goal is to build the immunology equivalent of Silicon Valley in Los Angeles,” said Mazziotta. “Given the university’s expertise and state-of-the-art facilities, we are expecting to attract the world’s best scientists in immunology and immunotherapy, as well as top students.”

The institute will draw on the expertise of UCLA faculty members, scholars from different higher education institutions, and other leading scientists and practitioners in clinical and biomedical scientific research, including human genetics, genomics, computer science, engineering and information science. Researchers will pursue new tools, treatments and vaccines for cancer, autoimmune and immune deficiency disorders, infectious diseases, allergies, heart conditions, solid organ transplantation and other major health-related issues.

► Read more about immunology and immunotherapy at UCLA.

 

The UCLA Research Park will also be home to the UCLA Center for Quantum Science and Engineering, which conducts research in the emerging field of quantum science and technology — including quantum computing, communication and sensing — with the aim of dramatically increasing information processing power by harnessing the unusual behavior of subatomic particles. Founded in 2018 and operated by the UCLA College’s Division of Physical Sciences and the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, the center has received funding from Boeing and the National Science Foundation, among others, and counts more than two dozen UCLA faculty from the fields of physics, engineering, computer science, chemistry, mathematics and biostatistics among its members. Notably, the center will also house the Quantum Leap Challenge Institute for Present and Future Quantum Computation, an NSF-funded initiative that includes UCLA and seven other universities.

New space at the UCLA Research Park will facilitate greater collaboration between the quantum center and its partners and will solidify UCLA’s leadership role in this developing field, according to Miguel Garcia-Garibay, dean of physical sciences, and Alissa Park, dean of engineering.

► Learn more about UCLA’s work in quantum science and engineering.

In just over a year, the university has acquired the former Westside Pavilion and major properties in downtown and the South Bay. “In the decades to come,” said Chancellor Block, “these acquisitions will solidify UCLA’s place as an institution of unequaled positive impact.” Pictured: Block with Jerry Sanchez, building engineer.

Both the quantum center and the immunology and immunotherapy institute will provide opportunities for UCLA students, early-stage faculty and others, offering unparalleled research and training opportunities in a unique interdisciplinary environment.

The UCLA Research Park will also serve campus units spanning the disciplines, as well as the broader university community. In addition to its flexible work areas, the former mall includes a full 12-screen multiplex movie theater that may be converted into lecture halls or performance spaces, allowing UCLA to offer programming across the arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences.

“The research park directly embodies UCLA’s strategic priority of expanding scholarship and engagement to benefit the public good,” said Roger Wakimoto, UCLA’s vice chancellor for research and creative activities, who helped envision the new development. “The park’s scientific, technological, humanistic and creative advances will help to promote economic growth throughout the Southern California region and beyond.”

The property is easily accessible by a number of public transportation lines, including the Westwood/Rancho Park Metro station, which connects directly to downtown. It is also minutes away from UCLA’s Westwood campus by bus, which will help facilitate travel to and from the site by faculty, staff and students.

UCLA acquired the property and the attached multiplex theater — occupying 10800, 10830 and 10850 W. Pico Blvd. — from Hudson Pacific Properties and Macerich. The companies redeveloped a significant portion of the former mall, updating building systems infrastructure and conducting a major seismic retrofit, as well as adding a new window wall, concrete building facades, courtyards, terraces and patio areas. Hudson Pacific Properties and Macerich also worked closely with Google on converting part of the property to flexible office space.

The expansive, high-ceilinged indoor space will house research laboratories and offices. Along with the 12-screen multiplex theater, the site has the potential for additional uses, including lecture halls, classrooms and performance spaces.

“With its acquisition and exciting plans for a research park, UCLA will continue to transform this incredible property in ways that serve Los Angeles and the world,” said Victor Coleman, chairman and CEO of Hudson Pacific. “We look forward to working together post-acquisition on the continued redevelopment of the property to help UCLA realize its full vision for the site.”

“We’re delighted that UCLA will be further developing this state-of-the-art facility to help accelerate transformative research and innovation,” said Scott Foster, Google’s vice president of real estate and workplace services. “Google has called the greater Los Angeles area home for over 20 years, and we saw an opportunity for the space to be better utilized in a way that benefits the broader community.”

This latest major acquisition — UCLA’s third in the past 15 months — is part of a transformative expansion designed to broadly extend UCLA’s top-flight resources and institutional expertise, deepen the campus’ connections to Los Angeles’ diverse and dynamic communities, and meet the growing demand for top-tier higher education across the city and region.

Each acquisition has been an adaptive and sustainable development, repurposing existing structures for new uses while avoiding the need for major construction.

“We now have a remarkable opportunity to transform the Westside through the UCLA Research Park and to cement UCLA’s and L.A.’s position at the forefront of innovation and discovery,” said Allison Baird-James, UCLA’s interim vice chancellor and chief financial officer, who helped broker the deal.

The vast new space, which straddles the southeast and southwest corners of Pico Boulevard and is connected by an enclosed pedestrian bridge over Westwood Boulevard, features a broad metal and glass facade and open areas with 17-foot ceilings, panoramic windows and expansive atriums inside and out. In addition to research labs and offices, the property has the potential for additional uses, including classrooms, lecture halls and event venues.

Upgrades by the property’s previous owners, Hudson Pacific Properties and Macerich, included infrastructure and seismic improvements and the addition of outdoor terraces, courtyards and patios.

A fixture of West Los Angeles since its opening in 1985, the Westside Pavilion quickly became a much-visited retail location and gathering spot and continued to evolve over the following three decades. At one time, the site featured a three-level bookstore and multiple movie theaters and appeared as a backdrop to numerous movies and TV shows. Over the past decade, it suffered from a decline alongside other indoor malls across the country, leaving storefronts largely empty.

“We recognize the former Westside Pavilion’s place in L.A.’s history and are grateful for the chance to turn the empty former mall into the future home of discoveries that will change the world,” Block said.

UCLA’s expansion in L.A.

In June of this year, UCLA bridged the gap between Westwood and downtown Los Angeles with its purchase of UCLA Downtown, a 334,000-square-foot building in downtown’s Historic Core.

And in September 2022, the university acquired its UCLA South Bay campus, including the 24.5 acres of the former Marymount California University campus in Rancho Palos Verdes and an 11-acre residential site in San Pedro — allowing UCLA to expand its offerings, serve more students and advance the University of California’s 2030 systemwide goals.

“I have the greatest confidence that the seeds we are planting and investing in today will become great trees,” Block said, “and that in the decades to come, these acquisitions will solidify UCLA’s place as an institution of unequaled positive impact.”

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