La Sierra University, Tom & Vi Zapara School of Business

Riverside, California

  • FIRM

    TR Design Group, Inc.


    La Sierra University

  • AREA

    60,230 sq.ft.





La Sierra University, founded in 1922, is fully accredited today. It is a privately funded Seventh-day Adventist Christian institution of higher learning that offers programs from the baccalaureate through the doctoral level.

The university’s business school was established in 1986. La Sierra’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE; now Enactus) team, ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCAPACITY1,000COST PER SQ FT$232.00FEATURED IN2013 Architectural Portfolio in the business school, was founded in 1991; since then, La Sierra’s SIFE team has gone on to achieve an unparalleled record of success, winning four SIFE International Championships and two SIFE World Cups, and earning global recognition for La Sierra’s business school.

Regularly ranked as the most diverse higher-education institution in the western United States, La Sierra attracts students from all over the world, many of whom enroll at what is now the Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business to learn how to live out the school’s inspiring motto: “Create value. Make a difference.”

The university articulated two goals for the business school’s new building: it was to be a monumental contemporary facility with one caveat: it needed to be a tilt-up structure. Designed as a powerful, striking statement marking the entrance to the La Sierra University campus, the building takes advantage of a 12-foot drop across the site to create a strong presence, with grand stairs leading up to its rotunda. To create the building’s stately appearance and conceal the tilt-up joints, the joints were placed at the inside corners between the pilasters and the recessed areas on the building, and then covered with strong cornices. 

The building features a central atrium for daylight and a spacious rotunda designed to foster communication and collaboration. The building contains 11 classrooms and two lecture halls, designed to seat a total of 533 students, as well as student club rooms, conference rooms, offices, centers, a video-recording studio, and a 380-seat auditorium and conference center featuring a large stage.

The entire building is on axis with the center of campus where the striking Glory of God’s Grace sculpture depicts the story of the return of the Prodigal Son. At the entrance to the building facing the sculpture, a large chandelier is suspended in the atrium space to represent the Holy Spirit. 

This dynamic building will serve the projected 750 students for the School of Business. At full capacity, it can serve more than 1,000 students.