New campus visitor center to open Tuesday at Memorial Stadium

Simon Greenhill/Staff

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Next Tuesday, the campus visitor center will move from its current location in Sproul Hall to its new home on Goldman Plaza in California Memorial Stadium.

The new Koret Visitor Center will include interactive monitors, touch screen displays and videos featuring faculty, alumni and current students, according to La Dawn Duvall, the executive director of visitor and parent services.

“The campus has never had a visitors center ‘worthy of Berkeley,’ ” Duvall said. “While (the Sproul Hall center) is great, it’s not one that really has the space and the opportunity to tell the Berkeley story.”

The interactive materials at the center include a wall-sized touchscreen with a map of the world, which visitors can use to pinpoint where UC Berkeley has been involved through its research or campus student startups.

“It was really exciting to see,” said campus ambassador and student Isabella Brandes, who has visited the new space twice. “There’s a lot more space that really showed off the university.”

The center will be located in Memorial Stadium because of the availability of the space, Duvall explained. While she admitted the uphill walk to the center can be “a bit of a hike” for visitors arriving from the Downtown Berkeley BART Station, Duvall said the center will partner with parking and transportation services to provide Bear Transit to visitors registered for a tour.

Starting Tuesday, campus tours will begin at Memorial Stadium, and the tour route will be adapted to take visitors on an east-to-west loop through campus, ending on Sproul Plaza, Brandes said. She said she was looking forward to taking visitors on their own custom tour through campus.

“I’m excited for the adaptation,” Brandes said. “I think it will allow us to show off more of the campus.”

The renovation process for the visitor center included expanding the existing space into Goldman Plaza so the center can accommodate between 70 and 75 visitors at a time.

The budget for the building’s expansion was $1 million, campus spokesperson Christine Shaff said. The project was funded completely by the Koret Foundation, a San Francisco-based group that has previously contributed to campus projects such as the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

“Fortunately, we did not have to get any money from the campus or the students,” Duvall said. “The biggest benefit of that is what we are able to do going forward.”

The new visitor center will stay open on weekends, which is a feature campus hasn’t offered before. Although the number of tours offered per day will remain the same, Duvall said she remains open to the possibility of increasing tours based on the popularity of the center.

According to Duvall, there will be a dedication later in September to commemorate the opening of the center.

Contact Patricia Serpa at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @pserpa_dc.