UCSB graduates who come visit their alma mater will have a new place to congregate next February when campus developers open the university’s first alumni house.

Construction of the Mosher Alumni House, which is being built by Soltek Pacific, began in November at the University Plaza entrance to campus between Mesa Road and Campbell Hall. The building is funded exclusively by private donations and will serve as a space for entertaining alumni, parents and prospective students. Architect and UCSB alumnus Barry Berkus designed the house and said he wants the building to serve as the “living room” of the campus.

“This building will be the heart of the campus,” Berkus said. “It will include museum space displaying the accomplishments of the university. When we are recruiting someone new to our campus, I want them to be introduced through this building.”

He said the idea for an alumni house was first proposed in the 1980s, but that an actual plan for one did not take shape until recently.

“I got involved in the mid-80s through an interview and selection process,” Berkus said. “The whole thing just went away, but it came back three or four years ago. I was involved not only in the design and oversight, but also with the fundraising.”

The building received $3 million of its funding from the Mosher Foundation, an institution created by former UCSB Vice Chancellor Samuel Mosher and his wife, Margaret Mosher. UCSB Alumni Association Interim Executive Director Dick Jensen Richard said an additional $6.7 million has been collected from donations to the Alumni Association. The building did not receive any funds from the state.

“The Alumni Association has been raising money for the house for 13 years,” Jensen said. “However, for a project like this, to say that it ought to be a state priority doesn’t work because it doesn’t serve a function that the state should pay for.”

The 14,000 square-foot building will include a library, conference rooms and entertainment facilities such as a sky terrace offering views of Goleta Beach. Jensen said the new building will become a source of pride for the university.

“One of the things is that we don’t have on campus is a very good visitor-serving place or a place to celebrate our achievements,” Jensen said. “It seemed critical to have a place where alumni and friends could gather. We will probably even have a few weddings there. It’s just such a nice place.”

Berkus said the house will help connect the growing alumni community to UCSB and possibly inspire them to make contributions to the school.

“It is said in some circles that a campus should win hearts, minds and wallets,” Jensen said. “If you provide [alumni] an opportunity to bond with the campus, they will be more interested in giving. Right now there is no way for them to be able to spend time and connect to the place.”

Architecturally, the three-story building will have a circular center structure and a raised ground floor, and the top of it will be framed by a circular trellis, Berkus said.

“The alumni house is intended to have a trellis crown that will feel like there’s a garden on the roof,” Berkus said. “The vocabulary of the university architecture is becoming contemporary and the alumni house had to fit into that. You’re trying to build something somewhat timeless. A lot of buildings on campus are stuck in [the] 60’s and don’t have legs to move forward.”