The growing UC Merced campus is nearly ready to debut the second phase of the innovative Merced 2020 Project, a multiyear plan to add 1.2 million gross square feet of classroom, office, research laboratory, dining, recreation, housing and other needed facilities.
Phase two will include the Arts and Computational Sciences Building, the Sustainability Research and Engineering Building, a Research Server Container Facility, a regional loading dock, a recreation field and outdoor basketball courts, and additional residential housing.
“We’re going to have brand new studio art, art history, dance and recording teaching facilities, which is a big win for the students,” Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Michael McLeod said. “We are creating a center of gravity for the sustainability research and engineering and the computational science departments, as well.”
The new Arts and Computational Sciences Building includes 56 new computational labs of differing sizes, plus six specialized art teaching studios. The Sustainability Research and Engineering Building includes 25 wet labs, 31 dry labs, 11 class labs, a machine shop and a collaborative maker space, a chemical stock room, and office spaces for graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and faculty members, said Margaret Saunders, executive director of the Office of Space Planning and Analysis.
As is the rest of the UC Merced campus, the new buildings are expected to earn LEED certification through the U.S. Green Building Council, and McLeod and his teams are aiming for platinum status.
Each building houses more than 400 people, and together they add 150,800 assignable square feet. Other facilities in the new buildings include a 299-seat lecture hall designed to accommodate science, technology, engineering and math lectures and demonstrations; film screenings and small performances; and teaching, research and community enjoyment.
The Sustainability Research and Engineering Building is one anchor for the new Academic Quad. It has four floors above ground and a basement that links to a regional underground loading dock. The building will house a Center of Excellence for sustainability. This will be the university’s first Center of Excellence — a hub for a multi-disciplinary campuswide initiative, Saunders said.
Inside, the wet/dry laboratories are organized according to modular planning principles that allow the building’s configuration to evolve as needed, McLeod said. The conference and break rooms and colloquy spaces are arranged to bring people together across divisions and departments to create dynamic and collaborative research environments.
The Arts and Computational Sciences Building stands between the quad and the residence halls and classrooms at the foot of Academic Walk. It features a paseo and external corridors designed to help people navigate the building and foster impromptu meetings and collaborations among students, faculty and staff, including on balconies and in exterior gathering spaces.
“The new academic quadrangle affords UC Merced a tremendous opportunity to reorganize its research programs to support collaborative research, and to create centers of excellence to move to the next level of maturity as a research university,” Saunders said.
The Research Server Container Facility will be adjacent to the Telecommunications Building and the Central Plant and will include a containerized data center with supporting infrastructure and a yard. The server facility’s purpose is to provide flexible and extendable support for high-performance computing and research at UC Merced.
The regional loading dock will be located beneath the Academic Quad, allowing for a more flexible and adaptable loading area that doesn’t interrupt activities in the quad.
The final piece of the second phase is the opening of the housing area of the southern portion of Granite Pass, where 180 new beds will be available, Saunders said. The northern section of Granite Pass opened in fall 2018 as part of phase one. The southern portion was slated to be part of phase three but was completed ahead of schedule.