Cultural managements

Creation of a cultural center: UC San Diego opens Park & ​​Market in downtown

UC San Diego’s wish to expand its physical and social reach downtown is now a reality, with the official opening of UC San Diego Park & ​​Market, a four-story building which, according to the university and its partners, will become a cultural center for the Region.

As its title suggests, the 66,750 square foot structure is located just steps from the Blue Line Trolley at the corner of Park Boulevard and Market Street in the East Village, providing access from the La Jolla University Campus to the north. and all the way to the US border with Mexico to the south.

With ambitions that go beyond simply expanding the famed research university, UC San Diego Park & ​​Market is designed as a place where education, business, art, and ideas can intersect.

“Park & ​​Market was created to bring together many contributors of unique talent from across our region,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla, and to develop “something bigger than what they could do on their own or that we at UC San Diego could do on ours… That’s what a great university does and that’s what we are.

The university expects to hire more than 10,000 people to the region each year, but the new facility promises to be more than just an academic setting.

“The very idea of ​​this is a place where people who were previously geographically isolated can now come together, co-locate and intersect,” said Mary Walshok, UC San Diego associate vice chancellor for public programs.

During Saturday’s public opening for UC San Diego Park & ​​Market, the public enjoyed a movie shown on the big screen at the outdoor amphitheater.

(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The building hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday with campus and community officials. On Saturday, the doors opened to the general public, with an estimated crowd of around 300 people. Some families have brought their children to enroll in the San Diego Public Library’s summer reading program.

Park & ​​Market cost about $65 million—$40 million for construction and about $25 million for interior work—without any state funding. Philanthropists and foundations accounted for about $10 million, and the rest was funded by UC San Diego Regents.

“It’s not taxpayer money,” said Hugo Villar, dean of UC San Diego’s Division of Advanced Studies. “I think this is a very important signal for the community because we want to participate in the economic dynamism of the region, and the downtown area is a central element of that.

Outside, the building is encased in a glass facade, with a 25-foot-tall double-sided video wall that projects images onto the street outside and into a reception area on the first floor, not far from a rotating circular staircase that takes visitors to the second floor.

A majestic staircase at the location of the UC San Diego Park and Market

A majestic staircase is one of the focal points of the new UC San Diego Park & ​​Market location downtown.

(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

There, a gallery space opens up for art installations and the entrance to a 58-seat movie theater that screens independent and foreign films every day of the week.

“We gravitate toward films that won’t be screened in other multiplexes,” said Moises Esparza, exhibitions director for Digital Gym Cinema, the theater operator. “And we want to encourage people to come back to the cinema… Watching movies on your sofa is cool, but it’s better to watch them together, with friends.”

Outside, an amphitheater hosts music, dancing, and special events. The Young Lions Jazz Conservancy, taught by renowned San Diego trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos, performed on Saturday, for example.

The third and fourth floors provide space for classrooms, a computer lab, workforce training, and offices for a range of local organizations, including the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, the San Diego Workforce Partnership and the San Diego County Black Chamber of Commerce.

“Too often you have these large, well-meaning community organizations doing great work,” said Bruce Mayberry, president of the Black Chamber. “But it’s kind of out of sight, out of mind. They don’t want to include us, it’s just that we’re not there. So having an office in the building gives us a chance to bump into each other in the elevators, at the water coolers…and just be more involved in the process.

UC San Diego Park & ​​Market Cinema

Inside the 58-seat cinema operated by Digital Gym that shows independent and foreign films on the second floor of the UC San Diego Park & ​​Market facility.

(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Local philanthropists Malin and Roberta Burnham have committed $3 million to support a partnership between the university and the Burnham Center for Community Advancement. Based in Park & ​​Market, the center describes itself as a “think tank and action group” aimed at making the binational region “a better place to live, work and play for everyone”.

David and Claire Guggenheim donated $1 million to Park & ​​Market, and a 225-seat black box theater on the first floor that can be used for performances, lectures, and teaching is named after them.

“We are coming out of two years of COVID, and where is all the personal interaction and community building? It’s at these arts and cultural events,” said Andrew Waltz, director of arts management at Park & ​​Market. “I can’t tell you how many events I’ve been to in the last two weeks where people are ready to build community and get back to a life that makes them feel fulfilled, and those are places like this. who provide these links.”

The hub aims to improve relations on both sides of the border through partnerships with the Center for Mexican-American Studies at UC San Diego and CETYS Universidad, a Baja California-based university accredited in California.

“By being here, many students in South Bay and further south are going to feel a connection to the university, which is less transactional and more transformational,” Villar said.

In the aftermath, the siting of Park & ​​Market also figures to give downtown an economic boost and an opportunity for revitalization in the East Village.

“Our mission is economic development and cultural vitality, and UC San Diego coming to downtown truly fulfills that mission,” said Betsy Brennan, CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership. “We’re going to have students, we’re going to have the ability to walk, we’re going to have programs. It will be an incredible asset to downtown San Diego.

Writer Gary Robbins contributed to this story.