As UCLA continues its push for affordable student housing, Chancellor Block is honored for efforts


A day after the UC Regents approved UCLA’s plan for a new Westwood apartment project that will offer significantly reduced rents to students with financial need, Chancellor Gene Block was recognized by the Los Angeles Business Council for leading the campus’s ongoing efforts to increase the stock of acessible, affordable, well-designed student housing.

In presenting the Chairman’s Award to Block at the council’s annual Los Angeles Architectural Awards gala in Hollywood Thursday night, California Assembly Member Rick Chavez Zbur, whose district includes Westwood, commended the university for its transformative work, particular at a time when housing vulnerability has been on the rise among college students in Los Angeles and throughout the state.

“UCLA,” Zbur said, “has managed to build enough housing for every student who wants it, and Chancellor Block should be thanked for his vision and leadership in tackling and successfully building the necessary housing needed by his students and the community.”

A deeper look at the UCLA projects honored at the Los Angeles Business Council’s 2023 Architectural Awards.

The Chairman’s Award highlighted two recent UCLA housing developments — the Olympic and Centennial residence halls, which opened on the Hill in 2021, and the Southwest Campus Apartments, opened in 2022 — as well as the renovation of the campus’s La Kretz Botany Building, designed by famed architect Paul Revere Williams in 1959. The projects were recognized for their excellence in design and sustainability and their contribution to the welfare of students and the overall university experience.

“The socioeconomically diverse student body that UCLA serves should still have access to excellent facilities, thoughtfully built living and learning spaces, and examples of the very best of architectural and artistic achievement,” Block said on accepting the award.

Crowd watches UCLA video at the Los Angeles Business Council Architectural Awards gala

David Esquivel/UCLA
A crowd of more than 300 architects, developers and public officials watches a video on UCLA’s award-winning projects at the gala.

The new residence halls and apartments are part of a housing campaign that has seen UCLA add approximately 5,300 new beds over the past five years, allowing the campus to become the first UC to guarantee campus housing for all undergraduates — four years for students incoming freshmen and two years for transfer students. During Block’s tenure, UCLA has expanded accommodations to more than 10,000 additional students.

“Providing low-cost housing is critical when a third of your students come from low-income families.” Block said at the gala, which was attended by some 300 architects, developers and public officials. “I’m happy to report that we’re not done. Just yesterday, the UC Regents approved our newest housing project which, thanks to a state subsidy, will offer excellent rooms to undergraduates with significant need.”

Building affordable housing for students most in need

That project involves the transformation of the UC Regents–owned apartment building at 565 Gayley Ave. in Westwood, which currently houses 100 students, into an eight-story complex with a mix of double and triple rooms that will accommodate more than 380 students.

With funding from the state’s student-housing grant program, the campus will be able to offer many of those beds at rents well below the market rate for undergraduate students who qualify based on their income level — starting at $600 a month.

Artists rendering of the Gayley Towers redevelopment project

UCLA Capital Programs/Courtesy of Mithun Architects
Artist’s rendering of the Gayley Towers redevelopment project.

The new development, at the southwest edge of campus, will be based on a co-living model that features shared kitchens, community bathrooms and a landscaped communal courtyard, helping to keep costs down while providing a supportive living environment for students.

Exanding the availability of affordable housing, Block has said, not only helps to ease the financial burden on students — especially those from first-generation and lower-income backgrounds — but allows them to take better advantage of campus resources and opportunities, assists them in building community and connections, and minimizes the environmental and even mental health costs of commuting.

Work on the Gayley Towers redevelopment project is expected to begin in spring 2024, with the opening projected for fall 2026.

More on UCLA Newsroom here.