UC & LLNL

A small cluster of buildings on the east side of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) will become the site of future collaborations between the Laboratory and University of California campuses.

Although the land belongs to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, the university owns three buildings there known collectively as the Hertz Hall complex. The buildings have been unoccupied for the past two years and largely unused for the better part of a decade. They are located next to Greenville Road on the north side of Eastgate Drive.

The UC recently committed $5 million to renovating the site. According to a statement from a recent meeting of UC Regents, the job should be finished in 2021, after which, the facilities will be a sustainable, systemwide resource for the university as a center for long-term collaborative research and teaching with LLNL. It is an area that has been used for educational purposes for many years.

At the instigation of Edward Teller, co-founder of LLNL, the University of California at Davis opened a branch of the University of California at Davis at the Laboratory in 1963. The facility was the Department of Applied Science, emphasizing Teller’s belief in the value of turning science to the solution of practical problems.

Temporary trailers provided the early classrooms on the south side of the Laboratory, but the university replaced them in the 1970s with permanent buildings on the east side, built partly with donations from the Hertz Foundation. The foundation’s creator, John Hertz, had developed close ties to Teller and also believed in the value of applied science.

The main building was formally called Hertz Hall, but the facility was popularly known as Teller Tech. In the decades that followed, UC-Davis awarded more than 400 PhD and master's degrees to young scientists and engineers who studied there.

Faculty typically had joint appointments between Davis and LLNL, but non-tenured laboratory staff often taught in order to bring their expertise to the classroom. Teaching at Teller Tech was considered intellectually stimulating for laboratory scientists and engineers, while the students had access to LLNL’s outstanding and in some cases unique technical resources. Many of the students worked at LLNL or later found jobs there.

After 2000, however, interest in the program began to wane. Teller died in 2003, and many of the other early proponents retired or moved to Davis. In 2011, under severe budgetary pressure, UC-Davis disbanded the Department of Applied Science, absorbing tenured staff into other departments, like engineering and physics. A small number of Davis staff stayed on at Hertz Hall, but moved back to Davis in 2018, leaving the facility empty, according to UC.

The buildings had deteriorated over the years, suffering significant and growing challenges from deferred maintenance and uncompleted corrective repairs. Renovation costs will be covered from the University’s share of the management fee that will be earned while operating LLNL.