New Xavier Center to open in 2020 at Loyola High School

| June 27, 2019 | 0 Comments
LOYOLA PRESIDENT Rev. Gregory M. Goethals, Vice President for Advancement Lela Diaz and Loyola Board Chairman Rick Caruso.
Photo by Brandon Bibbins

Loyola High School, the oldest high school in Southern California, broke ground on a new building this month. Through their construction initiative, “The Campaign for 1901 Venice Boulevard,” Loyola is reimagining Xavier Center as a 26,000-square-foot contemporary special events space, expected to open in late 2020.

Loyola Board Chairman Rick Caruso led the groundbreaking celebration June 11 with more than 100 guests attending. Administrators have been planning the $34 million reconstruction for years as part of their Facilities Master Plan. Built in 1964, the current Xavier Center lacks the efficiency and space needed in the modern age to support school functions. 

“To inspire our students to become future leaders, we must be able to provide them with state-of-the-art facilities that contribute to a thriving educational and spiritual community,” President Rev. Gregory Goethals said.

The Center was not ADA compliant, and its kitchen could not support large-scale dinners, which often had as many as 800 guests. Together with fundraising and student events, the Center hosts more than 200 gatherings a year including the school prom, academic testing and baccalaureate services. With about three functions occurring each day within the Center, it is the most-used building on campus.

Loyola is preserving the functions of the former Xavier Center, but new additions are designed to improve the ease and quality of these events. The enlarged Xavier Center will include a full-service banquet kitchen, student kitchen, dedicated sacristy, moveable walls, ADA-compliant restrooms and audio-visual equipment. 

“Working alongside Loyola’s administration, sharing its vision for the 1901 Venice Boulevard project and helping to shepherd it in its continued path of excellence, Loyola’s Board enthusiastically endorses this immensely important initiative,” Caruso said.

Xavier Center sits next to near-century-old Ruppert Hall and Loyola Hall, which collectively represent the main entrance to campus. Therefore, Loyola’s architecture firm, KFA Architecture, is balancing a modern interior with the traditional Gothic-style exterior architecture of the school. 

Loyola will also be redesigning the landscape of this front entrance, known as Hayden Circle, and a new gate will be added to better secure the campus.

  “This is the historic architectural core of our campus, so we really want a building that is significant enough to fit well within that setting —  something that’s going to be a beautiful addition to campus and looks like it was meant to always be here,” Vice President for Advancement Lela Diaz said.

Behind the new Xavier Center, Loyola will landscape a Veterans’ Courtyard to honor alumni, past and present, who served in the military. A Veterans’ Wall of Honor will be installed on the backside of the Center.

While the Center is undergoing renovations for the 2019-2020 school year, a makeshift events space will be set up in one of the school’s parking lots. The temporary structure will mirror the footprint of the Center, and it will have air conditioning and heating.

This construction follows other smaller improvement projects on Loyola’s campus, including permanent stadium lights and a new track around the field. Within the past two decades, Loyola has also updated its science center and library. 

“We want to continue to improve. We want to make sure that our students have the best — not only just the best education and best Jesuit education, but also have access to the best campus and the best facilities and the best programs and services. We’re continuing to do that on all fronts,” Diaz said.

By Talia Abrahamson, who will be a senior at Marlborough School in the fall. 

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