Art Center Buys Building at Gateway to Pasadena

Largest Transaction in College’s 84-Year History Made Possible by Vision and Generosity of Peter and Merle Mullin

Published : Monday, July 21, 2014 | 5:19 PM

Art Center College of Design continues to expand its educational reach and resources with the acquisition of 1111 South Arroyo Parkway and plans to build student housing on South Raymond Avenue in Pasadena, President Lorne M. Buchman announced today.

The largest transaction in the College’s history, the $27.4 million purchase of the building at the gateway to Pasadena was made possible in large part due to the reallocation of an unprecedented $15 million gift to Art Center from Southern California philanthropists and classic car enthusiasts Peter and Merle Mullin. The generous donation, announced last fall, was originally restricted to the construction of a new industrial and transportation design facility to be built on the corner of Glenarm Street and Raymond Avenue. The College will finance the remaining cost of the South Arroyo property by way of a state bond issue, with plans to repay the debt through a capital campaign.

A prominent feature of the new Mullin Building will be a street-level gallery, open to the public, showcasing work created by students along with vehicles from the Mullins’ extensive vintage automobile collection. The facility will include classrooms, a “making” workshop and studio spaces, as well as administrative offices. The expansion of the College’s facilities will not only relieve overcrowding on the Hillside Campus but also, more importantly, allow Art Center to improve the experience for faculty, students and staff. The purchase provides much needed square footage for the transportation and industrial design shops and programs to grow at the Hillside Campus, located on Lida Street above the Rose Bowl.

“Acquiring this new building would not have been possible without the generosity of Peter and Merle Mullin,” said Buchman. “The reallocation of their $15 million gift—the largest in the College’s history—exemplifies true leadership. We’re indebted to their understanding, vision and support of Art Center’s mandate to provide the finest art and design education anywhere.”

“It’s about great education,” said Peter Mullin, an Art Center trustee. “We want to help provide first-rate facilities for what is clearly the leading institution of art and design higher education.

“While the idea of an entirely new facility showed great promise, we could not let the opportunity to purchase this property pass by, especially since it is contiguous with the College’s existing South Campus,” Mullin continued. “It doubles the space a newly built facility would have afforded the College and it is simply in the College’s best interest—and in the best interest of Art Center students—to take advantage of this unique opportunity.”

“Expanding and developing new spaces for learning is a central element of the College’s ambitious five-year Strategic Plan created with input from throughout our community,” said Fred Fehlau, provost. “The unprecedented growth of our undergraduate and graduate programs since 2009 not only signals an increase in demand for the quality of education we provide but also illustrates the growing importance of the creative professions to the economy and our world.”

“Extending our reach further into the city and beyond provides important opportunities to deepen our engagement with diverse communities,” said George Falardeau, senior vice president of Real Estate and Operations. “The close proximity of South Campus to public transportation enables the College to invigorate art and design learning for all ages through continuing education and public programs that help enrich our culture and society.”

Planned student housing offers increased access and affordability

President Buchman also announced Art Center’s plan to provide students with housing. The College hopes to break ground in 2017 to build its first residential complex for approximately 250 to 300 students.

“We’re thrilled with the idea of offering students a place to live on campus, which will dramatically enhance campus life and contribute to our students’ overall success in class, on campus and in the world,” said Ray Quirolgico, associate provost for Student Affairs.

“The Center for the Student Experience is committed to developing new student housing to be a truly residential educational experience while providing an affordable and attractive place to live and work with peers, mentors and colleagues in a seamless supportive environment where ‘home’ and ‘work’ can be intertwined,” said Quirolgico.

San Diego-based Studio E Architects will design the student housing facility, and local urban planners, Symphony Development, will build the complex. In 2012, Studio E Architects won praise for designing the University of California, Davis West Village housing complex, which was recognized as the largest planned Zero Net Energy project to date in the nation. Specializing in developments for urban communities, Symphony Development has built sustainable student housing for the University of Southern California, Southwestern Law School, California State University, Northridge and San Jose State University.

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