THE HAAS SCHOOL HAS EXPANDED TO 2,300 DEGREE STUDENTS FROM 1,300
The need for the facilty became apparent ten years ago, but site planning for the building began six years ago, delayed in part by the need to raise the $60 million cost of the structure. When Haa’s existing three-building complex was opened in 1995, the school had an enrollment of 1,300 degree students. Today that number has ballooned to 2,300 students.
The three buildings that has been the Haas campus since 1995 were the first three structures privately financed at UC-Berkeley without public funding. Until then, the business school shared Barrows Hall with the political science and sociology departments. Chou Hall also was completely financed by alumni.
All told, it took six of the largest gifts ever received by the business school to bankroll the project. Four of those gifts totalled $5 million each, while one brought in $10 million and the naming gift for the structure is worth between $15 million and $25 million. Kevin Chou, founding CEO of mobile gaming firm Kabam, and his wife, Connie Chen, a physician and co-founder of healthcare startup Vida Health, made the largest pledge for the building nearly two years ago. In all, there were hundreds of donors who made the project possible. “The naming gift from Kevin and Connie kicked it over the line,” says Lyons
HURDLES: THE MOVING OF A JULIAN MORGAN-DESIGNED DAY CARE CENTER
The webcam tracking the building’s progress was turned on on April 4, 2015, and shows the clearing of the site with a massive hole in the ground. There were a couple of other formidable hurdles Dean Lyons had to overcome. On the site was a daycare center designed by the famous architect Julian Morgan, who had also worked on the Hearst Castle. The building, however, had been moved before and the university was already constructing a new child care facility on campus. To make room for the new business school building, Haas had to cut the building in four pieces and move it to Strawberry Canyon.
Then, an underground culvert allowing Strawberry Creek to flow under the site would have to be moved, buried deeper into the ground to make room for the largest classroom in the building, a 140-seat tiered-classroom sponsored by 2131 employees of Deloitte which made the project’s largest single corporate contribution of more than $3 milliion.
Initial plans were to expose Strawberry Creek, a central feature of the Berkeley campus, but engineers decided that it runs too deep for that to be practical. Instead, they built a dry creek bed outside the building with a pair of wooden bridges for students to cross into the hall.
THE BUILDING WENT UP UNDER A NOVEL 5013c ORGANIZATION
Among other things, Haas was able to reduce the building’s construction costs by 15% to 20% by creating a novel 5013c organization which built the structure and will gift it back to the university’s Board of Regents. The idea was conceived by Ned Spieker, the managing partner of a real estate firm who was the lead partner for the building and an alum of the undergraduate business program. The 5013c structure allowed the architects from Perkins+Will to work with contractor Vance Brown Builders earlier and more closely to prevent costly and inefficient design work.
The formal, official opening of the building will likely occur in March. Standing outside the new building, Lyons concedes that it has been a lengthy process to get to this point. “It has taken a long time,” he says. “The fundraising was absolutely necessary and that took awhile, but also challenging was the moving of the day care center and the moving of the culvert underground.”
But when he does leave the deanship, it will stand as yet another part of his Haas legacy.