La Kretz Hall: a new cornerstone in scientific exploration

La Kretz Hall: a new cornerstone in scientific exploration

Donor’s newest building in childhood neighborhood

A man of few words, Morton La Kretz lets his buildings do most of the talking.

The historic Crossroads of the World landmark in Hollywood, for instance, speaks of his pride in Los Angeles. He oversaw its restoration to its former 1936 glory when he saved the office complex from demolition in 1977.

The artistic, bright, three-story La Kretz Hall at Cal State L.A., on the other hand, is a testament to what he values most: the environment and education. The building is a reflection on where he spent part of his childhood – the surrounding Boyle Heights District – and what he sees as the future of environmental science, research and education.

Says La Kretz, “Cal State L.A. stands out because of the special role it plays in helping first-generation college students get an education and transform their lives. I was like many of your students, because I was the first in my family to go to college and the first to graduate.”

As a real estate developer and the founder of Crossroads Management, La Kretz has spent his career managing a portfolio of industrial, commercial and residential properties throughout the Los Angeles basin. He has worked in the industry since the early 1950s.

La Kretz Hall, which houses the University’s programs in biochemistry, chemistry, biology, geology, health, kinesiology, microbiology, enviornmental science and nutritional science, was dedicated April 7.

In his dedication speech, La Kretz added: “It’s exciting for me to dedicate La Kretz Hall, a research center that will help students fulfill dreams, albeit far more technical than mine ever were. I am thrilled that this facility will be the center of learning and exploration, the birth-place of scientific breakthroughs, the home of talented professors and scientists.”

The building officially opened to students and faculty in fall 2008, and is the first wing of the $42 million Wallis Annenberg Integrated Science Complex.  La Kretz said he donated funds to the University to help with the construction of the facility and to create an endowed fund for the environmental sciences.

“(La Kretz) has become a good friend of the University – a true patron of the sciences – and we are glad that he decided to become a member of the Cal State L.A. family,” said Jim Henderson, Dean of the College of Natural and Social Sciences.

Other buildings bearing La Kretz’s name in Los Angeles include the La Kretz Hall at UCLA, which houses the Institute of the Environment, and the La Kretz Urban Watershed Garden at TreePeople’s headquarters in Los Angeles.