June 20, 2007

Orange County Business Journal

Bren Dedicates UCI Computer School Building

By Sarah Tolkoff

Donald Bren expanded his real estate empire Wednesday with the dedication of a building at the University of California, Irvine.

This time around, it’s his name on the building, not The Irvine Company’s.

The dedication marked the official unveiling of the new home for the School of Information and Computer Sciences at UC Irvine, even though the building has been open since the start of the year.

It’s set to be the main base for the school, which adopted Bren's name in 2002.

Previously, the school had been spread out among four buildings, trailers and offices in the nearby University Research Park, which the Irvine Co. owns with UCI.

The building took three years to complete and was funded by Bren’s $20 million gift to the school a few years ago.

It has about 100,000 square feet of classrooms, offices and labs as well as a big rooftop patio overlooking the few remaining undeveloped areas on campus.

Like many of UCI’s buildings, it’s got a modern, airy and industrial design marked by sky lit atriums and exposed concrete floors.

The computer school's logo got a slick redesign to include Bren’s name in amped up versions of the school’s blue and gold colors.

Chancellor Michael Drake introduced Bren, saying that he is a longtime friend.

“When I got this position (as chancellor) I called Donald Bren before I called my mother,” he joked. “Don is better at keeping secrets.”

The Irvine Co. chairman, a big education supporter, addressed a crowd of about 500 in one of the new building’s lecture halls.

“At my core, I’m a builder,” Bren said. “It’s been a lifetime passion for me.”

Bren spoke about the true “tests of time and function” that determine the value of a piece of real estate.

“The real satisfaction in a building comes many years later. The big question is, ‘does it really serve the users well? Is it attractive, relevant and important 10, 20 or 50 years later?” he asked.

Bren even tipped his hat—literally, a blue UCI baseball cap—to the Anteater’s baseball team, which has advanced to the nationals for the first time and have won 16 of their last 18 games.

UCI's goal is to be among the top 10 universities in the next five years.

“I have very high hopes for this school,” Bren said. “I view my association with this school as one of my best long-term investments.”
Bren Dedicates UCI Computer School Building