UCI business school adding $50 million ‘destination’ center

UC Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business is constructing a five-story, 78,000-square-foot building scheduled to serve as the school’s main center for students, faculty and staff. The school broke ground in January, and the building is scheduled to open in January 2015.

The building campaign was been years in the making – a vision of faculty, staff, students and community friends for a stunning, technologically advanced facility to house the growing business school.

Article Tab: An artistic rendering of the new building planned by UC Irvine's Paul Merage School of Business. The structure, courtyard and grand terrace are shown.
An artistic rendering of the new building planned by UC Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business. The structure, courtyard and grand terrace are shown.

The $50 million construction budget includes roughly $40 million in state bond financing and about $10 million in private donations, school officials said.

“For a business school at the forefront of innovation, collaboration, research and technology, it’s the next-generation building for the next generation of business leaders,” said Debi Klein, senior director of development for the Merage School.

Now home to more than 1,200 students, Merage has not had a building constructed for its use since 1989, said John Clarke, assistant dean for the business school. Although the Merage School has expanded and become one of the top business schools in the country, space has become increasingly limited, Clarke said.

“We’re literally in a situation where undergrads going through our majors could complete their degree without ever stepping foot in a business-school classroom,” said Clarke. “They would be taking accounting in a physical sciences building, and they’d be getting strategy over in engineering. … People come in, take a class and leave. This (will be) a destination.”

The new Merage building, yet to be named, will be home to a high-tech 300-seat auditorium for distinguished-speaker conferences, a dining hall, resource centers, classrooms, study rooms, and a trading and technology lab. There also will be a large meeting hall for symposiums with an outdoor terrace for receptions.

And a 4,000-square-foot grand terrace will overlook a new shaded courtyard. That outdoor courtyard will be heated from below, officials said.

“Business is what keeps our local, state, national and even global economy moving,” said Klein. “This new facility will serve as a rallying point and a hub for business activity in Southern California, providing a gathering place, a resource for networking, and an exciting venue for business and community events.”

The new facility will leave a legacy for many. The Merage School Building for the Future campaign included several donation opportunities to name rooms, centers, auditorium chairs, the courtyard, terraces, and even the building itself. Naming opportunities still are available.

Major sponsors of the building so far include the Beall Family Foundation, Charles Schwab and Co. Inc., Experian, Ed Fuller, the Paul and Elisabeth Merage Family Foundation, PAAMCO, Emulex Corp., Union Bank and Wells Fargo.

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