Key takeaways

  • The UCLA Faculty Club’s multimillion-dollar renovation project has earned a 2024 Preservation Award from the Los Angeles Conservancy.
  • UCLA invested $10 million to restore the club with support from multiple donors.
  • Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners, known for its experience with historic buildings and mid-century modern design, worked with UCLA Capital Programs to implement necessary upgrades and update the club’s modern ranch-style design.

The UCLA Faculty Club, now in its 65th year of operation, has been honored with a 2024 Preservation Award from the Los Angeles Conservancy. Originally known as the Faculty Center, the building and project team were recognized during a ceremony on May 16 for a major renovation project that has revitalized its role as a space for community on campus.

As the largest local preservation organization in the United States, the nonprofit LA Conservancy has helped recognize, protect and revitalize the county’s most iconic buildings for over 45 years. Its Preservation Award, which is annually selected by an independent jury of architecture experts, celebrates architecturally and culturally significant historic resources. The Conservancy commended the club for representing “the triumph of community advocacy and collaboration.”

“The Conservancy recognizes the value in preserving legacies that have been marked with modernism,” said Andrea Curthoys, the Faculty Club’s general manager. “Their award symbolizes where progress meets tradition.”

The club’s preservation was spearheaded by Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners, a firm renowned for its respect for historic buildings and appreciation of mid-century modern design. Principal Mario Violich, associate principal Clover Linné and UCLA Capital Programs senior project manager Eric Heggen sought to maintain and update the club’s unique modern ranch-style design, which was originally built by architectural firm Austin, Field and Fry.

Leveraging mandatory seismic, accessibility and infrastructure upgrades to create opportunities for additional improvements, the project team built upon the initial funding for crucial repairs to take the project to the next level. Inventive planning, design and fundraising enabled the project team to revitalize a beloved campus building, transforming it into a newly relevant campus asset.

“The biggest improvements made to the club have transformed the experience for members and guests,” said Linné, a UCLA alumna. “It has been wonderful to see the club and campus landscape brought back to life as a vibrant place for scholarly exchange, team building, gathering and informal interaction.”

The team made aesthetic improvements, including interior and exterior paint, landscaping and hardscaping, carpentry and carpeting. They also worked with UCLA Public Art Collection curator emerita Victoria Steele to curate artwork. 

“I strove to acquire period-appropriate work when possible, to reinforce the club’s indoor-outdoor aesthetic and to select work by professional artists with a UCLA connection,” said Steele, who is incoming president-elect of the club’s board of governors and a longtime member.

The process of the club’s renovations first began in 2011, when alumni and benefactors Meyer and Renee Luskin made a significant gift to the university for the construction of a new academic conference center and hotel. As a result, some began to consider the club’s potential incorporation into the new enterprise, leading the Conservancy to place the club on its preservation watchlist.

After opposition from the campus community led by Michael Rich and a negative environmental impact report about the proposed plan, the campus determined that the new Luskin Conference Center would be better in a different location. The club’s mission — to serve as a community for “intellectual, education, research and interdisciplinary exchange” – would continue in its current space, but with some necessary upgrades.

With a $10 million commitment in 2019, UCLA Administration provided the financial underpinning for the club’s plans. Sherie and Donald Morrison, a distinguished faculty couple, also committed a gift of $1 million to support aesthetic improvements. Their gift, the largest ever made to the club, encouraged others to donate, leading to over $4 million being raised, which included additional support from the Morrisons.

From left: Buzz Yudell, Eric Heggen, Andrea Curthoys, Stephen D. Cederbaum, Victoria Steele, R. Michael Rich, Linda Sarna, Clover Linné, Sharlene Silverman, Mario Violich, Brenda Phan, Bernardo Frias.
Brenda Phan
From left: Buzz Yudell, Eric Heggen, Andrea Curthoys, Stephen D. Cederbaum, Victoria Steele, R. Michael Rich, Linda Sarna, Clover Linné, Sharlene Silverman, Mario Violich, Brenda Phan, Bernardo Frias.

“UCLA’s leadership deserves enormous credit and thanks for stepping in with $10 million to help with the club’s much needed repairs and renovation,” said Linda Sarna, interim president of the club’s board of governors. “Their commitment galvanized donors like Professors Sherie and Don Morrison. We are immensely grateful for their generosity.”

After the functional and aesthetic renovations were completed, the club reopened in 2022. According to Curthoys, its residential-style architecture distinguishes the space, making it warm, inviting and friendly, and it continues to be a consistent gathering place for its members, which include UCLA faculty, staff and alumni. Located west of Hilgard Avenue, the building has hosted a myriad of events, including conferences, banquets and dinners. It has also historically served as a place for professors from different academic disciplines to socialize on a daily basis.

“Whether we’re from south campus or north campus, in the club, we’re a community of people who care deeply about the mission of UCLA, and work hard to live up to it every day,” said Stephen Cederbaum, professor emeritus and member of the club’s board of governors.

The Club was presented with a Preservation Award during the Los Angeles Conservancy’s ceremony at the Netflix-owned Egyptian Theatre. In attendance to receive the award were Linné, Violich, Buzz Yudell, Sharlene Silverman, Bernardo Frias and and Brenda Phan of Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners, with Peter E. Hendrickson, Heggen, Rich, Curthoys, Steele, Sarna and Cederbaum from UCLA. Other award recipients included Glendora’s Rubel Castle Historic District and the Bailey House in the Hollywood Hills.