The Real Deal Los Angeles

Billionaire think tank campus planned for 450 acres in Santa Monica Mountains

Nicolas Berggruen paid $45 million for the future headquarters of his namesake institute

May 02, 2016 10:30AM

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(credit: mattjaffwriter.com, Europe Next Steps)

(credit: mattjaffwriter.com, Europe Next Steps)

Los Angeles, according to Nicolas Berggruen, is a state of mind.

That’s why the billionaire chose the Santa Monica Mountains — specifically, half of the remaining, private land between Topanga State Park and the San Diego Freeway — to be the new headquarters of his international think tank, the Berggruen Institute, the L.A. Times reported.

Berggruen has purchased 450 acres of land west of the 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass for $45 million from community developer Castle & Cooke. The campus would be developed in the area between the Getty Center and the community of Mountaingate, the Times said.

Berggruen, who made his fortune in finance, envisions the development as a “a secular monastery.”

After interviewing 30 architects, he selected Herzog & de Meuron, the firm behind Beijing’s Olympic Bird’s Nest, to design the property, which would house up to 50 visiting scholars and comprise conference rooms, gardens, dining facilities and additional lodging.

The institute, which is in its fifth year, produces political reports for world leaders and publishes its findings in the World Post, an affiliate of the Huffington Post. Other board members include former Pakistan prime minister Shaukat Aziz, Arianna Huffington and political scientist Margaret Levi.

The project, which is likely to be controversial, is slated to break ground some time before 2020. [LAT]Cathaleen Chen