Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Construction begins on new UC Davis management school

Friday, December 7, 2007
Construction begins on new UC Davis management school
Conference center and school will be part of new entrance to campus
Sacramento Business Journal - by Mark Anderson Staff writer

Construction starts today for the University of California Davis' newest buildings, the $34.5 million Maurice J. Gallagher Hall -- the new home of the Graduate School of Management -- and a neighboring conference center.

The project has been delayed for years but is now ahead of schedule. When the development went out to bid in July, the groundbreaking was scheduled for February 2008. It's starting two months early.

Helping push the construction is the strength of fundraising efforts. The school's naming rights were secured by a $10 million gift by UC Davis alumnus Gallagher, who earned a bachelor's degree in history from Davis in 1971. He went on to earn a master's in business administration from UC Berkeley three years later. Gallagher is chief executive of Allegiant Travel Co. (Nasdaq: ALGT).

The new graduate school building will be three stories and 40,000 square feet. The building and the conference center are expected to open in fall 2009. A $12 million, 75-room Hyatt Place hotel will start construction nearby in April, said John Yates, director of real estate services for the campus.

Gallagher Hall is at the entrance to the university from Interstate 80, which "gives us visibility we do not have right now," said Nicole Woolsey Biggart, dean of the Graduate School of Management.

"We are a very good, very small school," she said. "We can get lost in this community and on this campus."

The graduate school now is in space in the center of campus, "in the heart of the undergraduates," and classrooms can be scattered through other buildings.

The graduate school will also be closer to King Hall, the law school, which will make it easier to coordinate classes between the graduate programs, she said.

The graduate school of management has 500 students, 120 of whom attend classes at the university. The school also offers working professional courses at One Capitol Mall in Sacramento and in San Ramon.

Students are packed into the existing school space, said Jim Stevens, assistant dean for student affairs. The program is getting some temporary additional space for the next couple years, and it will be able to cater to 170 students in the new building.

Both buildings are designed to reflect the architectural motif of the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts and the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, both of which are also at the entrance to the university. Those buildings are light sandstone and feature dramatic glass entrances. The two new buildings also share that design.

"That is intentional," Yates said. "We wanted the design to be reflective of what we have there. We wanted them to fit in the neighborhood."

Because it is deep in the campus with little space of its own, the graduate school currently has difficulty working with the regional business community, Biggart said.

"This gift by Gallagher is a gift to our school and to the students, of course, but it is also a gift to the business community," she said. "It will provide opportunities for the public to get involved."

The Sacramento office of Sundt Cos. Inc. won the contract to build the school and the two-story, 42,000-square-foot conference center. It is working with architects Sasaki Associates Inc. of San Francisco.

After the food institute, graduate school building, conference center and hotel, the last piece of the master plan for the entrance to the campus is a $30 million UC Davis art museum. The art gallery project will not begin until it has raised half its construction cost through a capital campaign. | 916-558-7874

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