Santa Monica New Building Construction Officially Begins

It's official: The start of construction for RAND's new Santa Monica headquarters was celebrated at the building site on August 19, 2002. About 350 staff, alumni, and guests shared the occasion and expressed similar reactions: "I never thought it would happen!"

Among them was RAND President and CEO Jim Thomson, who confessed in his opening remarks, "Many of us here doubted that this day would ever come...I was one of them."

The construction site was festooned with red, white and blue. Huge drills and shovels sat atop small mountains of excavated soil as evidence that construction was under way. They provided a dramatic backdrop for the official "first-shovel" photographs.

group with shovels

Joining Thomson in recognizing this milestone for both RAND and the City of Santa Monica were Mayor Michael Feinstein, Councilmembers Richard Bloom and Pam O'Connor, Assistant City Manager Gordon Anderson, and many other city officials and community leaders.

In his congratulatory statement, Mayor Feinstein thanked RAND for a beautiful, environmentally sensitive headquarters that will serve RAND well and contribute to the rebirth of Santa Monica's civic center.

Feinstein outlined the city's projects that will provide additional parking, new parks, housing, and infrastructure improvements over the next decade. He applauded RAND's continued willingness to partner with the city.

Thomson thanked a number of individuals and groups who have played major roles in the project so far. He recognized Michael Rich, Rae Archibald, Bonnie Holmes, and Iao Katagiri for their persistence and leadership and acknowledged the scores of RAND staff who worked with them over nearly two decades to plan the new headquarters.

He expressed appreciation to the RAND Board of Trustees, represented by Bruce Karatz and James Q. Wilson, for their guidance, support, and expertise throughout the process.


He applauded the creativity and professionalism of project architects, Daniel, Mann, Johnson & Mendenhall (DMJMH+N) and asked Paul Danna and Steve Zimmerman to accept RAND's thanks on behalf of their team. Several other DMJMH+N staff attended the ceremony, including its chief executive, Ray Landy.

Turning to the construction phase, Thomson acknowledged the critical role of the general contractor. He directed a "good luck" statement to representatives of Turner Construction Company, including Bill Cody, who heads the Los Angeles office, and Roger Bruce, the RAND project site superintendent.

Thomson also thanked the neighbors who attended the ceremony for their patience and cooperation. "We are well aware of the years of construction that you have endured in this area and we know that we are adding to it. We will do our very best to limit the time and level of inconvenience you will experience as a result of our project."

Similarly, Thomson recognized that the RAND staff will have to work near a construction site over the next two years. "We will try very hard to mitigate the disruption and hope that moving into the new building will make it all worthwhile."

Thomson acknowledged several RAND Alumni Association members who also had been present at the original groundbreaking in 1951. Among them were Milt Weiner, Jack Lind, and Irwin Blumenthal. Thomson also introduced Bob Collbohm, who was five years old when he attended the 1951 ceremony presided over by his father, Frank Collbohm, RAND's first president.

August 2002