At UCLA, the watchword is growth.

In September of 2022, our university expanded significantly when we acquired the UCLA South Bay campus in Rancho Palos Verdes and the UCLA South Bay Villas in San Pedro, both about 30 miles south of our main campus in Westwood. Capitalizing on the new sites’ proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the Port of Los Angeles, the two new campuses will soon host academic programs devoted to sustainability, climate change and environmental justice.

Less than a year later, in June 2023, we established UCLA Downtown through the acquisition of the landmark Trust Building in Los Angeles’ historic core. This building will be our foothold in the city center, allowing us to host academic, administrative and service-oriented programs that will help us deepen our ties to and better engage with L.A.’s diverse communities.

And most recently, this past January, UCLA acquired the former Westside Pavilion mall — a massive, 700,000-square-foot complex just 2 miles from our main campus — with the aim of reshaping it into a nexus of exploration and discovery called the UCLA Research Park. 

This last acquisition is our most ambitious to date. The empty former mall will be transformed into a state-of-the-art hub of innovation, one that will bring together academics, corporate partners, government agencies and startups to explore new areas of inquiry and achieve breakthroughs that will serve society. Initially, the UCLA Research Park will house the California Institute for Immunology and Immunotherapy at UCLA, a major multidisciplinary institute focused on finding treatments and therapies to fight and prevent cancer and autoimmune, neurological and cardiovascular diseases. The space will also become the new home of UCLA’s Center for Quantum Science and Engineering, which was established in 2018 and brings together academic and industry partners to make advancements in quantum computing, communication and sensing. The park will also serve other UCLA units spanning the arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences.

The former Westside Pavilion site will likely be familiar to those who have spent time in West L.A. Built nearly 40 years ago, it was for many years the premier shopping destination in the area, but — alongside other indoor malls across the country — over the past decade it suffered from a decline in foot traffic, and it ultimately closed its doors in 2019. We are grateful for the chance to revitalize the previously bustling mall property while also helping to solidify our city’s position as an epicenter of scientific achievement. UCLA’s acquisition of the former mall was made possible in part by the state of California, Google (which previously leased part of the space) and a group of generous founding donors.

Our university’s procurement of three major properties in less than a year and a half delivers on several of the goals in our 2023–28 Strategic Plan, which you can read more about in this issue of the magazine. Undoubtedly, these major new additions represent monumental change for UCLA — but for a land-constrained institution like ours, that change is critical. In establishing a more expansive presence within L.A., we are setting ourselves up for success not just in the years ahead, but in the decades ahead. UCLA South Bay, UCLA Downtown and the UCLA Research Park will provide much needed physical space that will enable our remarkable university to grow, flourish and continue to serve the public good in our second century.

Read more from UCLA Magazine’s Spring 2024 issue.