Jon Lundstrom '76 Architecture

A Grand Design

Architect and alumnus has been a valuable advocate for the CSU

by Paul Sterman

Jon LundstromJon Lundstrom’s father worked as a carpenter, often in homes belonging to Hollywood bigwigs. Sometimes he brought young Jon along on the jobs, an experience that stirred his son’s imagination.

“I’d walk around and see these giant mansions up in Beverly Hills and Beverly Glen,” Lundstrom said. “That kind of got me interested in architecture.”

That interest led him to Cal Poly Pomona, where he graduated in 1976 with a degree in architecture — the first in his family to earn a college degree. Lundstrom since built a highly successful career, running his own architectural firm based in Irvine. He doesn’t design mansions — but, rather, something more substantial: educational and research facilities at colleges and universities, including many at California State University campuses.

Lundstrom said his training at Cal Poly Pomona provided the foundation for his success and he has volunteered years of service to his alma mater and the CSU. He served on the Cal Poly Pomona Alumni Association Board from 1994 to 2003, including two terms as board president, and represented the campus on the CSU Alumni Council from 2001 until he retired from his service this year. Lundstrom will remain an active member of the College of Environmental Design Dean’s Advisory Board.

Representing the CSU’s 3 million alumni, the council advocates for public higher education at local, state and federal levels. Lundstrom held several leadership positions during his long tenure, including vice president of finance and development, and chair of the finance and development committee.

“Jon has been a really great leader on the CSU Alumni Council, providing us with both stability and the commitment of his leadership all these years,” said Lori Redfearn, CSU’s assistant vice chancellor for system wide advancement. “He’s really been selfless in volunteering his time and talent to the council.”

Lundstrom has visited all 23 California State University campuses and was named CSU Alumni Advocate of the Year in 2008. Redfearn and others said he has been a steadying hand during a key transition period, one filled with financial challenges. They praised his pragmatic, straightforward approach to dissecting high-stakes issues.

Jon Lundstrom“Jon is not at all concerned about expressing his opinions, and he can get to the bottom line pretty quickly — he cuts through the flak, so to speak,” said Stan Braden, a fellow CPP alumnus and architect who served with Lundstrom on the campus’ alumni board.

He’s also someone you can count on, said Braden (’77, architecture), who originally recruited Lundstrom to the board. “If he says he’s going to do something, he does it.”

The CSU Alumni Council is composed of representatives from all 23 campuses. Lundstrom said it’s been gratifying to participate in decisions that impact so many who benefit from the CSU. He cites, for example, serving on the committee that selects an alumni trustee for the CSU’s 25-member Board of Trustees.

With five board members being ex-officio trustees (such as California’s governor and the CSU chancellor), and the governor appointing the other 19 members, the Alumni Council’s ability to select a trustee is a crucial responsibility, according to Redfearn.

Lundstrom also helped vet candidates for the Cal Poly Pomona presidency when Michael Ortiz was chosen for the job in 2003. (Current President Soraya M. Coley succeeded Ortiz in 2015.)

In addition, he said, lobbying for the CSU’s fair share of state funding amid budget cutbacks and competing interests has been a big challenge but also a rewarding one.

“One of the things I liked a lot,” he said, “was going with President Ortiz and walking the halls of Sacramento, meeting with representatives and pitching the value of the CSU. And it wasn’t hard to pitch that. It was interesting to see the reactions of the state legislators and how they wanted to support the CSU.”

Recalling his own time as a student, Lundstrom said he appreciated the practical, hands-on nature of Cal Poly Pomona’s architecture program. Some of his classes were taught by working architects.

“They had a grasp of what the real world was going to demand of us,” he noted.

Such preparation often meant going beyond the classroom, said Lundstrom, sharing an apt example.

“After I completed one of my projects, my professor said, ‘Jon, I’m going to make an appointment with this redevelopment agency, and we’re going to meet with these guys because you’re going to present your project.’

“So I felt very privileged to do that, because here were these design professionals in the industry [assessing my work], not only an instructor. That made a big difference to me,” said Lundstrom, whose career included teaching architecture at Santa Ana College and Cerritos College.

His many years of experience in the educational arena complement his career as an architect: Lundstrom & Associates specializes in higher education projects, including labs, classrooms, lecture halls and libraries. Among the many innovative facilities it has planned and designed are the Academic Senate lecture hall at Cal Poly Pomona, the LA BioSpace Innovation Center at Cal State LA, the Visual Arts Center at CSU Bakersfield and numerous major renovations and research labs at USC, Caltech and UC campuses.

Lundstrom & Associates also serves clients in the research & development, life-sciences, manufacturing and office industries.   

Designing facilities such as classrooms and labs to reflect a modernized learning environment is fascinating work, Lundstrom said. A top priority is creating multi-functional spaces that provide flexibility and allow students to tap into the latest technologies.

He described, for example, an innovative pharmacy-school classroom his firm designed that enables students and teachers to share information in real time through various media devices like laptops and tablets for improved team learning.

Ken Stone, a fellow architect who served with Lundstrom on the CSU Alumni Council, said Lundstrom’s professional talents are also what made him such an effective leader on the council. Chief among those are the ability to solve problems and help people find common ground — skills every good architect needs to bring complicated projects to fruition, Stone said.

“I watched him over and over take his professional skill sets as an architect and apply them to the people and processes as they related to CSU programs,” said Stone, a 1980 graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo who has served on the Alumni Council since 2004.

“That’s just the way he’s wired,” he said of Lundstrom. “It has made him a tremendous leader in each of the areas he has been involved in with the council, because he helped map the path to get [the projects] done and established a consensus-building environment.”

Redfearn agreed that Lundstrom is an adroit collaborator. “He was always making sure new members [of the Alumni Council] felt welcome and engaged, and that everyone’s service was meaningful.”

For his part, Lundstrom said he values the many relationships he formed through his CSU service.

“I met a lot of people from the other schools all across the state, and there’s a common thread there: just how important the CSU is to all of us.”