Peter Mullin makes extravagant donation to Art Center College of DesignThu, 17 Oct 2013 00:00:00 -0700
Peter Mullin, the purveyor of the Art Deco-inspired Mullin Museum in Oxnard, California, knows a thing or two about good design, and about nurturing good design. His contributions to Art Center have included the Peter W. Mullin Endowed Scholarship, which since 2005 has provided worthy students with financial aid. He is a member of the school's board of directors. In 2007, he sponsored a Transportation Design challenge for students to envision a body for a Bugatti Type 64 Coupe chassis, left unfinished in 1939 upon Jean Bugatti's death. No other design schools merit his attention, or his "world-class" designation; of Art Center, he simply says, "It's a gem."
Summarily, Mullin's gift to the Art Center College of Design is the largest in the school's history. It rings in at $15 million, which will fund an entirely new building at Art Center's South Campus on Raymond Avenue in Pasadena. Michael Maltzan is slated to design the building -- his last foray into Pasadena included the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This building would drastically expand Art Center's transportation and industrial design programs, which is now huddled in the the iconic Craig Ellwood bridge building in the foothills of north Pasadena.
"It's a world-class program, top in not just the country, but in the world," said Mullin. "Eighty-five percent or so of all the new cars being designed that are thought to be the best of the best in automotive design come from Art Center graduates. There's nothing wrong with what it's doing, it's incredible, but expanding it is the game plan. [The new building] has been in the works for a while. This is my commitment to that project."
His donation is the kickoff of a campaign to raise money for the school, which one might assume will come with the requisite alumni donation pleas like all schools of this caliber. Despite this, Mullin is mum on the details. "It's better for me not to speculate on all that until it's finalized and released to the public," he told us. "The board of management is actively working on that right now."
And yet, Mullin hopes that others -- individuals and corporations alike -- will follow suit with helping Art Center -- even if they won't follow in such a lofty manner. "Significant contributions to a new campaign encourage others to their add support and commitment. I do hope what we're doing encourages others to follow suit. Absolutely."
Mullin, who went to high school in Pasadena, is a busy man. He is either chairman or on the board of ten organizations -- including the Petersen Museum, the Guggenheim, UCLA and Occidental College. (He recently gave a sizeable sum to Saint John's Hospital in Santa Monica, where he is another board member, and another example of his largess.) His service on the Art Center board enables a voice in where the money will go, but otherwise he is simply another board member -- his vote is the same as everyone else's.
"Their desire to grow and expand their programs has been an opportunity," he added. "This is an exciting time for Art Center. It's going to be a major new treasure in the Los Angeles/Pasadena community."
Despite the financial fortitude, there will be no gilded statues of Mullin, no buildings with his name over the doors. Mullin prefers it that way. "I don't know that I hope to have any legacy, except as a car guy, which I am, through and through. I'm very pleased to be able to support what I think is the best automotive design center in the world. It's Art Center's legacy that I'm interested in, not mine."
By Blake Z. Rong