UCLA Spotlight

Brick, concrete and green all over: La Kretz Hall

  • By Cynthia Lee, Reed Hutchinson
  • Published Mar 13, 2006 8:00 AM


“Long before the environment was such an issue, I believed in conserving and reusing,” said La Kretz. “La Kretz Hall is an endorsement of these values and the perfect home for the Institute of the Environment.”

On this day, it's whisper-quiet in the large room where the staff of the UCLA Institute of the Environment (IOE) works. In reality, a silent revolution is in progress here.

It's in the carpet and the chair offered to visitors. It's in the padded partitions that make up the office cubicles, the air they breathe, the light that beams down from the room's 13-foot-high ceiling.

In fact, revolution is pervasive throughout the design of La Kretz Hall, where the IOE has been headquartered since the building opened in June 2005. The IOE space is ground zero for the green revolution for sustainable design and construction that is transforming the environments where people live and work.


IOE director Mary D. Nichols

Using imaginative design, innovative materials and the latest power-saving technology, architects created an energy miser of a building. La Kretz is so green that it will be the first UCLA building to meet the strict environmental criteria for certification by the United States Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system, regarded as the industry standard for sustainable design, said George Conde, UCLA Capital Programs project director.

The idea to construct a campus building that would be a showcase for sustainable design gained momentum in June 2000 when donor and alumnus Morton La Kretz agreed to help fund a new building that would house classrooms, seminar rooms and office space for the newly formed IOE. Two institute members, professors Rich Turco and Richard Schoen, were the first to suggest that the institute should have a green building. UCLA Capital Programs and the SmithGroup, the designers and architects of La Kretz Hall, thought the concept made great sense.

IOE director Mary D. Nichols wholeheartedly agrees. “It's very important for the institute and for the morale of the people who work here to know that the building we're in reflects the values we believe in and the commitment of the university to sustainability,” she said.

The man who brought sustainable design to the campus, Morton La Kretz, the principal contributor to the $8.5-million project and member of the Class of 1948, said at inaugural ceremonies that he takes pride in giving his name to an exceptional building that stands for environmental values.