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Press Release · March 22, 2011

PPIC Opens Bechtel Conference Center

SAN FRANCISCO, March 22, 2011— The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) announces the opening of the Bechtel Conference Center, a venue for programs that encourage civic discourse on the opportunities and challenges facing California.

The center is designed to serve as a meeting place and learning center, highlighting the value PPIC places on neutrality, consensus-building, and respect for different perspectives. It is located on the ground level at PPIC’s San Francisco headquarters at 500 Washington Street.

The conference center is made possible by a gift from the Stephen Bechtel Fund. Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr., is the retired chairman and a director of the Bechtel Group, Inc., the largest engineering company in the United States. His daughter Laurie Dachs is president of the fund. For three generations, the Bechtel family has been dedicated to improving public works and public life in California and throughout the globe.

“We see the Bechtel Conference Center as a place where diverse stakeholders can discuss their ideas, iron out differences, and elevate policy discussions above the noise of the partisan political process,” says Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “We are grateful to the Bechtel family for this remarkable addition to civic life.”

The design and operation of the Bechtel Conference Center reflect the values that PPIC and the Bechtel family place on environmental and technological innovation. It was designed by Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects of Berkeley, whose work showcases these qualities. The firm’s projects include the Randall Museum Theatre in San Francisco, the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse and Meyer Sound Pearson Theatre in Berkeley, the Lone Pine Visitor Center, and Ford Point, formerly the Ford Assembly Building in Richmond.

The conference center is housed in a PPIC-owned building that has earned LEED Gold certification, and it is designed to achieve LEED certification, as well. The center was built with recycled materials, including salvaged redwood paneling and environmentally friendly low VOC paints and carpeting. It is engineered to handle a wide variety of presentations and communications needs, with a high-definition camera system that allows events to be recorded or streamed online.


PPIC is dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research on major economic, social, and political issues. The institute was established in 1994 with an endowment from William R. Hewlett. As a private operating foundation, PPIC does not take or support positions on any ballot measure or on any local, state, or federal legislation, nor does it endorse, support, or oppose any political parties or candidates for public office.