Pepperdine will launch $250 million on-campus re-development project in 2024

Pepperdine University in Malibu plans to construct a $250 million on-campus event complex. The complex will include a three-story indoor sports arena/concert hall; adjacent to that building will be a three-story student fitness center to replace the existing Rho parking lot (aka parking lot J) and some of the campus’ Greek housing. The school expects to break ground on the project in early 2024 and wrap up in 2026. 

A YouTube video of the project was posted online three weeks ago with a drone-like fly-through computer graphic tour of all the proposed facilities. In the video, the announcer describes the project as “an extraordinary new campus initiative that will transform our Waves community and the experience of every student on the Malibu campus.”

In addition, they expect it to “cultivate a spirit of community and belonging…and serve as the new central hub for student fitness and wellness, Waves athletics, campus gatherings and more.”

The complex, to be named the “The Mountain at Mullin Park,” was initially the vision of past President Andrew Benton, who referred to it as “The Village.” The idea then picked up steam after the current President Jim Gash took office in August 2019 and renamed it “The Mountain.” (The ‘Mullin’ part of the name comes from one of the university’s major donors.)

All construction is being designed as environmental and sustainable, with LEEDS (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver certification for energy and environmental design.

According to US Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED is an acronym developed to measure the sustainability and performance of a building. The LEED system is set up to be a voluntary system. While there are other green rating systems, the popularity of the LEED system is partly driven by the fact that it quantifies green credits. For example, instead of simply stating that using recycled material as building material is good, it gives a threshold that 10 percent of the building must contain recycled material in order to receive credit.

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The first building, a student fitness building called “The Mountain’s Fitness, Wellness & Recreation Center,” will help actualize the Pepperdine Resilience-Informed Skills Education (RISE) program launched in fall 2019. The goal is to help students develop resilience skills, care for themselves and their peers in times of need, and reinforce their ability to bounce back from life’s challenges.

The first floor of the building will feature a 10,000 square-foot fitness center with top-of-the-line cardio and weight equipment. The second floor will offer group exercise classes, personal training spaces, locker rooms, and a fitness terrace. The third floor will have ocean view terraces, a student recreation lounge with room for study and “amenities for play” (like pool tables), administrative offices, and meeting rooms.

A multi-level parking garage for the new complex will hold 831 vehicles — replacing the parking spaces lost by constructing two buildings and various outdoor areas on top of the Rho parking lot.

The second building, the athletics and event complex, will be adjacent to the first building and roughly three stories high. It will include a multi-activity indoor court (MAC) designed for athletic practice and student recreation. A state-of-the-art arena court will be the new home of Waves Division 1 men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball teams, with locker rooms, a green room, an official’s room, and two VIP suites. The indoor arena will replace the Firestone Fieldhouse as Pepperdine’s primary athletic facility.

Up to 3,600 attendees will fit in the stands, and a 360-degree LED screen will allow fans to see the action up close.

The arena can be converted into a venue for other events like concerts and speaker series and can hold up to 4,000 attendees. 

The outdoor areas between the buildings will include multi-level ocean-view terraces with seating and an infinity pool, a café, the Arena Club, and Mullin Park.

According to the Pepperdine Graphic (the university newspaper) last fall, the project will cost about $250 million, and will be funded mainly by private donors — like most capital projects at the university. As of last fall, they were still $100 to $150 million short of the goal; however, Lauren Cosentino, vice-president for advancement and chief development officer, said The Mountain would be fully funded by 2026 — two years earlier than predicted in spring 2021.

Before actually breaking ground on Rho, Pepperdine had to make additional parking for students to replace all the spaces that would be unavailable during construction. As a result, new parking lots next to John Tyler Drive, officially titled the “Enhanced Parking and Storage Project,” are now being built to replace lots M, N, and O (aka Stotsenberg Track lot and Eddy. D. Field Baseball Stadium Upper and Lower Lots), according to the Graphic.

Last fall, the newspaper also reported that once the design team had a final design, it would be presented to Los Angeles County and the California Coastal Commission for final approvals.

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