That Human Touch
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what was needed to create a facility that could both withstand the most violent earthquake imaginable and provide an environment that would foster healing. The effort began with a pledge of $432 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and $44 million from the state. Dr. Gerald S. Levey, provost of Medical Sciences and dean of the School of Medicine, worked closely with Sarah Meeker Jensen M.Arch.'80, assistant vice chancellor for Health Sciences Capital Programs, to establish expert planning committees, invite colleagues and staff to contribute ideas and select a centrally located site.
There was an option to build the new hospital on the site of a parking lot in Westwood Village. But, Levey says, "If we had moved there, we might as well have gone to East L.A. Walls around disciplines develop quickly when there is even a 10-minute drive." Campus architect Charles "Duke" Oakley concurs: "UCLA has the densest population situated on the smallest site of any UC campus. Most schools are highly departmentalized, but we are all cheek-to-jowl and that fosters interdisciplinary activities." Though the selected site on Westwood Plaza is a tight 3.5 acres, it is a short stroll from the medical school and research labs, and it will be linked by a tunnel to the ambulatory-care facilities of the Medical Plaza to the south.
Phase One of the building program allocates approximately $600 million for the Medical Center; $200 million for the partial rebuilding of UCLA/Santa Monica Hospital; and another $500 million for equipment and the construction of two new research facilities, all of which should open their doors in five years. In Phase Two, sections of the existing complex will be amputated or upgraded and new buildings will be slotted into the gaps. FEMA, state and other public funds will cover most of the cost, but a $500-million fund-raising campaign has already secured pledges of $139 million. Heading the effort is entertainment power broker Michael Ovitz '68 who, with his wife, Judy '68, has personally pledged $25 million. "This vision, born of compassion and practicality, will benefit not only our children but those in future generations, not just in Los Angeles but all over the world," Ovitz observes.
Ovitz also persuaded Pei, the world-renowned architect who had earlier designed Ovitz's Creative Artists Agency in Beverly Hills as well as such internationally applauded projects as the Grand Louvre in Paris, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., to come out of semiretirement and tackle what Pei calls "one of the most difficult challenges for an architect."
Pei has experience with medical centers, having built a much-praised tower for Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. But he feels that large hospitals are always compromised by the need to add to what already exists. "There are no masterpieces, historically," he observes. "But this was to be all new, giving me the opportunity to do something different."
Giving the commission to Pei and the partnership established by his sons in 1992, when he left the parent firm of Pei Cobb Freed, was an inspired choice. Bringing order out of chaos is a specialty of Pei who, a decade ago, performed the same feat at the Louvre in Paris. There, millions of visitors a year straggled into a sprawling, palace-turned-art-