RAND Spreads Wings but Reaffirms West Coast Roots
By Teresa Rochester
Yes, RAND is selling off acres of its land to the city of Santa Monica.
And yes, RAND officials announced last week they will open offices in Pittsburgh, Pa.
But the venerable non-profit think tank has every intention of calling Santa Monica home for years to come.
With the $53 million sale of 11.3 acres of its prime real estate to the city set to wrap up next week, RAND Executive Vice President Michael Rich said that plans for a proposed 309,000-square-foot headquarters on the organization's remaining 3.7 acres are going along as planned.
"Santa Monica has been our home for 50 years," said Rich. "We hope we will be able to build our new headquarters and have that be our home for the next 50 years."
Rich said RAND is simultaneously working on the sale of the land, which took five months to negotiate and was hailed as a momentous occasion by city officials, and the design of the organization's new headquarters.
Unveiled in January, the preliminary design features a five story building - resembling twin slices of glass and concrete shaped like a football - that will be nestled at the Main Street curve that leads to the County Courthouse and City Hall.
"We're basically in two broad steps that we're taking. The first is the sale of the property to the city," said Rich. "That sale has been proceeding and is scheduled to conclude next week. We are working in parallel on the design and approval of the new headquarters."
While RAND is reaffirming its West Coast roots, the organization has also set its sights on the East Coast. Last week RAND officials, the Mayor of Pittsburgh and the Governor of Pennsylvania announced that the world's largest think tank will open offices in Pittsburgh immediately.
The new office is the institution's third in the United States. Along with its Santa Monica headquarters, RAND maintains an office in Washington D.C. and one in Leiden, the Netherlands. Pittsburgh officials lobbied hard to "land RAND," offering the institution a $2.5 million economic incentive package.
"RAND"s decision to make Pittsburgh its fourth office worldwide should send a global signal that this city has what it takes to succeed in the new economy," Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy said in a statement.
"Every sector came forward to help sell Pittsburgh and it worked," Pittsburgh Regional Alliance chairman, David Shapira said. "The value a RAND presence can bring to this region goes far beyond the number of employees."
Rich said the new office opens doors for RAND as well. He notes that the city is near some of the East Coast's finest universities -- including the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University --, research laboratories, foundations and large corporations.
"We're excited about that," Rich said about the new office. "It's an excellent location to serve all of our current clients well and to serve new initiatives in health care and new technology."
RAND will open temporary offices immediately and move into a more permanent home in June. The institution plans to have a staff of 30 working in Pittsburgh by the end of the year.
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