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Sunday, Oct 1, 2023

Hillel Starts Building La Jolla Center

After 20 years of struggling through lawsuits and design changes, Hillel of San Diego is starting construction of an $18 million center in La Jolla to serve Jewish students at the adjacent University of California San Diego.

The 6,500 square-foot Beverly and Joseph Glickman Hillel Center is being built at 9009 La Jolla Scenic Drive on a triangular-shaped site of slightly less than one acre at La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla Scenic Way, and La Jolla Scenic Drive North.

“Our community has been waiting a long time for this center and we are eager to move forward quickly to serve the community at UCSD,” said David Michan, a past president of Hillel of San Diego and chairman of the building committee.

Expected to open in fall 2022, the center is named for philanthropist Joseph “Birdie” Glickman, who died in May 2018 at the age of 103, and his wife, Beverly, who died in August 2015.

A Dream Come True

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 The Glickmans pledged $5 million toward the center’ construction and Hillel has set a goal of raising an additional $4.2 million to help pay for the project.

“The Glickman Hillel Center will be a hub for Jewish life at UC San Diego and is critical to ensuring that students at UC San Diego have a public place to gather, connect and learn,” said Karen Parry, executive director of Hillel San Diego and a UC San Diego graduate.

“Anti-Semitism is on the rise and we believe this is going to be a space for Jewish students to feel valued and safe,” Parry said. “The space will essentially be a space away from home for hundreds of Jewish students.”

Parry said she feels a personal connection to the new center because it was “something I dreamed about” as a student at UCSD, “It means when you dream something, it can actually happen,” Parry said. “The center is going to be a beacon of light for the Jewish community for what it represents, 20 years of challenges that we navigated successfully in order to say we have a right to be here.”

Blending In

Original plans for the center called for a single building but the design evolved in response to the community, said Michael Paluso, managing principal with M.W. Steel Group, the architectural firm that designed the center.

“We broke the scale of the building down,” Paluso said.

The revised center will have two single-story buildings and one two-story building with a dramatically sloping roof.

“We tried to make it blend in on the residential side but also make it have more of a street presence as it addresses UCSD across the street,” Paluso said.

The buildings share a 700 square-foot courtyard in the center.

“All three of the buildings have a large amount of glass that opens up into the courtyard, so there’s a visible connection,” Paluso said.

The smallest of the buildings at 971 square feet will serve as the gateway to the center and will include a wisdom wall of 304 square-feet where students can add an inspirational message or quotation, Paluso said.

“A lot of the feedback we got over the years from students and some graduates is they liked adding a personal touch to the space,” Paluso said.

A second one-story building of 1,890 square feet will include conference space, a kitchenette and open work areas.

The 3,653 square-foot two-story building will include a commercial kitchen and a student lounge that can be used for holiday gatherings and catered events on the first floor.

“We tried to make everything flexible enough so students and staff feel comfortable,” Paluso said.

The second floor will have an open work area that overlooks the first floor and offices for Hillel staff.

“It’s kind of unique because of the way the roof forms are,” Paluso said. “We tried to have the roof lines come down to the residential side. It’s a pretty dynamic slope the way the roof comes down. The ceiling finish in tongue-and-groove wood.”

Mixing New and Old

Approached from La Jolla Village Drive, the center has the appearance of a civic structure.

“If you’re driving west on La Jolla Village Drive, it’s kind of up above La Jolla Village Drive. You’ll be able to see that two-story building,” Paluso said.

From the other side, the building feels more residential.

The exterior finish of the buildings is stucco and Jerusalem limestone from a quarry in Israel.

“It has one foot in the old world and one foot in the new world,” Paluso said. “The forms are modern with a lot of glass but at the same time, we are using material from Israel. That had important symbolism for Hillel.”

The project also will include a 4,500 square-foot park with native plants.

Because of its size, the site is a challenging one, said Ryan Amos, project manager for Pacific Building Group, the general contractor for the center.

“It looks like we’ve got a lot of land there but the construction site is going to get really small, really quick,” Amos said.

Amos said that the project has special significance for him.

“My first project out of college was on the East Coast in Lexington, VA. I worked on a Hillel building for Washington and Lee University,” Amos said.

Hillel of San Diego

Founded: 1992

Executive Director: Karen Parry

Headquarters: 5717 Lindo Paseo, San Diego, CA

Business: Nonprofit service organization

Employees: 10

Notable: Hillel San Diego serves the more than 2,000 students at the University of California San Diego, San Diego State University, the University of San Diego and California State University San Marcos

Website: www.hillelsd.org

Contact: 619-764-5991


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