Top: Casey Wasserman and UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block prepare to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony.
Middle Left: The Wasserman family with (back row from left) Drs. Mark S. Litwin (FEL ’93), Neil Martin and A. Eugene Washington; UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block and Drs. Bartly J. Mondino and David T. Feinberg (RES ’92,
Middle Right: Casey Wasserman and Dr. Bartly J. Mondino stand in front of the oversized eyeglasses sculpture that represents the Wassermans’ vision and commitment to preventing blindness and restoring eyesight. Photos: Reed Hutchinson
Bottom: The new Edie & Lew Wasserman Building in UCLA’s Stein Plaza. Photo: Marcus Meisler
During a festive October 28, 2014, ceremony, campus officials dedicated a new research and patient-care facility in UCLA’s Stein Plaza. Named to honor the late philanthropists Edie and Lew Wasserman, whose generosity made the striking structure possible, the Edie & Lew Wasserman Building is a state-of-the-art facility that will meet the expanding needs of Stein Eye Institute and provide transformative space for UCLA’s Department of Neurosurgery and the Institute of Urologic Oncology (IUO).
“This world-class complex culminates years of planning to ensure the effective use of several exceptionally generous gifts to benefit the public,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block. “It is an enduring legacy of Edie and Lew Wasserman, who were among UCLA’s most ardent enthusiasts. They gave selflessly not only to enhance vision care, but also to establish undergraduate-student scholarships in the UCLA College and graduate-student fellowships in film production, among other gifts.”
“We’re here to celebrate the future,” announced Dr. A. Eugene Washington, vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences, dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Gerald S. Levey, MD, Endowed Chair. “The Edie & Lew Wasserman Building is a beautiful symbol of UCLA’s collaborative spirit and global impact.”
Designed by Richard Meier & Partners Architects, the $115.6-million project is an LEED gold-certified green building with six floors. Its 100,000 square feet is a stunning example of modern architecture, dominated by white terracotta, clean lines and pale oak. Three stories of glass flood the main lobby with light and a relief of two pairs of oversized spectacles — inspired by the Wassermans’ signature eyewear and an homage to the couple’s vision and long-standing commitment to preventing blindness and restoring sight — watch over the space.
The initial vision of the institute had its roots in the 1960s, when Lew Wasserman, Jules Stein and then-UCLA Chancellor Franklin Murphy imagined a trio of facilities dedicated to restoring and preserving eyesight. The first building, the Jules Stein Eye Institute, opened its doors in 1966, and in 1989, Stein Plaza expanded with the creation of the Doris Stein Eye Research Center.
Three floors of the Wasserman Building are dedicated to Stein Eye Institute. The new center features six lower-level operating rooms; the Division of Orbital and Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery is on the first floor; the Division of Cataract and Refractive Surgery is on the second floor. Each practice area includes procedure space and clinics, enabling physicians to perform patient exams, testing and surgery in a single location. By moving its surgical-center site to the Wasserman Building, Stein Eye will be able to expand the lab space in the Jules Stein Building required for cutting-edge research, such as gene and stem-cell therapy, for treating eye disease.
The UCLA IUO, on the third floor, is led by a multidisciplinary team of scientists and physicians dedicated to expediting the development of new therapies for the treatment of kidney, bladder, testicular and prostate cancers. Patients will benefit from the IUO’s collaborative approach, top diagnostic tools, expertise in robotic surgery and the combined experience of UCLA experts who often treat the most complicated urologic-cancer cases. A board representing all genitourinary specialties meets at the IUO to discuss complicated and challenging tumor cases referred to UCLA.
The Wasserman Building’s innovative philosophy continues on the top two floors, where the UCLA Global Neurosurgery Center unites the Department of Neurosurgery, which was previously spread among eight buildings. The center also features a telemedicine command center that allows surgeons to continuously monitor patients in Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica and community hospitals across California.
A new clinic includes collaboration spaces for multidisciplinary teams of physicians and the Steve Tisch Patient Care Suite, a unit with six exam rooms and two consultation suites. The 70-seat Charles and Peggy Norris Global Conference Room with extra-large viewing screens will allow experts worldwide to pool their knowledge and accelerate surgical solutions for patients. A simulation center will enable surgeons and trainees to download patients’ brain-anatomy images to rehearse complex cases before entering the operating room. The virtual-reality environment will give surgeons the ability to select instruments, choose the best entry points and identify complicating factors in order to reduce medical risks and ensure successful results.
Approximately 120 people attended the dedication. Casey Wasserman, the Wassermans’ grandson, recalled that he was a UCLA senior when he attended his first architectural meeting about the Wasserman Building with his grandfather in 1996. Eighteen years later, he joined the building’s opening celebration with his wife and children.