As UC Berkeley and other universities across California struggle with the challenge of state disinvestment, Bob Lalanne (B.A. Architecture, 1978) sees new opportunities to create long-term value for the campus and is working hard to support that effort.
Bob not only has strong ties to UC Berkeley—both his parents attended the university and his two daughters are Berkeley students and members of the Cal women’s club lacrosse team—but also a tremendous appreciation for the skills he acquired as a CED student and Cal athlete. “The diversity, competition, opportunities, incubation of ideas—always questioning or asking why—the intellectual powerhouse of faculty across multiple disciplines was very special.”
As president of The Lalanne Group, a San Francisco-based real estate development company, this multi-disciplinary approach has been the foundation of his success as a developer of some of the Bay Area’s best-known real estate projects. A career spanning more than 30 years has fostered his passion for creating high-quality, mixed-use urban infill projects. He has developed over 1,000 housing units in the Bay Area, some of which are anchored by Falletti Foods, Safeway, and Whole Foods.
Bob’s desire to take the knowledge he gained at Cal and in his career to create lasting value for CED and the university led him to become involved in giving back almost 15 years ago. Realizing the revenue-generating opportunity Cal possesses in its significant non-academic real-estate holdings, Bob became chair of the UC Berkeley Foundation’s Finance and Administration Committee. He also currently chairs the Real Estate sub-committee which he created and is the first head of the College of Environmental Design (CED) Advisory Council. In 2010, Bob and his wife Millicent co-chaired CED’s 50th Anniversary Gala, reflecting their status as generous and longstanding benefactors of the college. In addition to CED, the couple created the Lalanne Family Scholarship for Men’s and Women’s Athletics at Cal and are Builders of Berkeley.
Continuing their commitment to CED, Bob and Millicent have recently made a generous pledge of $1 million, matched by the Hewlett Foundation, for the creation of the Robert J. and Millicent C. Lalanne Chair in Real Estate Development, Architecture and Urbanism. Acknowledging the historic role of the architect as master designer-builder now challenged with complex issues of finance, market economies, sustainability, smart growth, social and cultural transformation, and technological innovation, the Lalanne Chair will address the need for the broad perspective, interdisciplinary knowledge and leadership skills to solve these new urban development challenges.
CED Dean Jennifer Wolch praised the Lalannes’ many significant contributions. “We’re extremely grateful to Bob and Millicent for their generous pledge and incredible support of CED. Along with this gift, the time and talent that Bob has devoted to CED and Berkeley will create a truly lasting legacy.”
The creation of the Chair was inspired by Bob’s own experience—and that of his fellow developers, urban planners and architects—and his conviction that successful place-making demands a broad base of knowledge and the ability to collaborate in an array of fields including design, planning, real estate finance, building operations, public policy, economics, law, engineering, construction and social science.
The Lalanne Chair will serve as a bridge to the fields within the College of Environmental Design as well as other UC Berkeley schools and colleges, in particular the Haas School of Business and its real estate program, the Goldman School of Public Policy, the College of Engineering and the Berkeley School of Law.
Bob acknowledged the foundations of his achievements explaining, “At Berkeley you learned to be a self-starter, an advocate, to reach high, to make a difference all in the context of an extremely intellectual environment with great access to great minds. It was a privilege to be a part of it.”