Campus & community, Campus news

Innovation lab launches at Memorial Stadium

A flexible learning space at California Memorial Stadium, designed to nurture innovative business leaders, had a launch party Sept. 18. The I-Lab will be followed by a Rec Sports fitness center, bringing new campus life to the stadium's 1.5-acre plaza.

Playing host to tens of thousands of football fans, as it did last weekend, is California Memorial Stadium’s regular gig. But could the historic venue push the envelope to serve as a magnet for campus community life on UC Berkeley’s eastern edge?

attendees in I-Lab

(L to R): Clark Kellogg, alumni donors Mike Gallagher and Douglas Goldman, Sara Beckman and Brandi Pearce. Kellogg, Beckman and Pearce are teaching in the I-Lab this semester. (Jim Block photo)

At an event at the stadium on Wednesday celebrating the launch there of a collaborative-learning space, the resounding answer was “yes.”

More than 100 people gathered in the Berkeley-Haas Innovation Lab (I-Lab) to see the new Haas School of Business facility firsthand and thank generous donors. It’s hoped that the adjacent 1.5-acre Lisa and Douglas Goldman Plaza becomes a vibrant hub linking the campus’s academic and athletic missions; I-Lab is the first step toward that vision.

Memorial Stadium, which reopened in August 2012 after a $321 million overhaul, was refurbished and retrofitted “not only to create a safer and more modern sports venue,” said John Wilton, vice chancellor for administration and finance, “but to open up this beautiful part of UC Berkeley to the entire campus community, to make it an attractive gathering spot for both athletic and academic life.”

A gift to Cal Athletics from San Francisco philanthropists Douglas and Lisa Goldman, as part of The Campaign for Berkeley, led to the plaza named in their honor. Athletics Director Sandy Barbour thanked the couple for sharing the campus’s dream of a scenic new gateway to the stadium “where students, faculty, staff and other community members can gather throughout the week.”

That multi-use public space is likely to be enjoyed in particular by what alumnus Doug Goldman dubbed “the lost tribes of the campus”  — faculty, staff and students who live and/or work on the campus’s hilly east side.

dean with donors

(L to R): Business-school dean Rich Lyons chats with Michael and Linda Gallagher and Doug and Lisa Goldman. (Jim Block photo)

Located directly across the street from the business school and designed to facilitate experiential and team-based learning, the I-Lab, already in use, was created with a gift from Haas School alumnus Michael Gallagher, a retired CEO, and his wife, Linda – both of whom were present. The furniture and partition walls in the 2,700-square-foot open classroom can be easily reconfigured, as needed, to facilitate collaborative activities that help train innovative, entrepreneurial business leaders, noted speaker Rich Lyons, dean of the Haas School.

The next tenant of the plaza area, also created through collaboration with Cal Athletics, will be the new 5,000-square-foot Recreational Sports Fitness Center at Memorial Stadium. While it will be open to all Rec Sports members, the facility is sure to attract, especially, those who live and/or work closer to the stadium than to the main Recreational Sports Facility (RSF), on Bancroft Way.

The Rec Sports satellite space, set to open in October, features fitness equipment accessible to all (including those with limited mobility) and private, gender-neutral changing rooms and showers.

The fitness center helps meet growing student demand for workout opportunities, said Rec Sports director Mike Weinberger. The main RSF was constructed in the early ’80s primarily “to provide competitive space to male gym rats,” he said. “Now more than 50 percent of our users are female,” and “everybody lifts weights.”

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