New UC Merced science and engineering building taking shape

tmiller@mercedsunstar.comApril 7, 2014 

After about two years of construction, a new building is slated to open this summer at UC Merced, which continues to grow toward the enrollment goal is set for 2020.

Science and Engineering 2 is a 102,000-square-foot building set to open in August. It will include four teaching labs, a study room, 12 workstations for faculty and staff, and 75 faculty offices, according to Patti Waid, UC Merced spokeswoman.

The $88 million structure was designed by SmithGroup JJR, a Michigan-based architectural firm. It features a plaza, a solar-panel shaded area that can serve as an event venue and a porch near the engineering labs for outdoor lessons.

The three-story building will have offices and labs on the upper levels and balconies that overlook the undeveloped space to the north and east.

The structure was designed to meet the requirements for LEED green-building certification . A number of other buildings on campus were certified on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ratings system.

The number of students enrolled at UC Merced has jumped significantly each year since the school opened in 2005. However, administrators have said there will be fewer open seats for the record number of applicants hoping to get into UC Merced in the fall.

According to numbers released in January by the University of California Office of the President, undergraduate applications to UC Merced for fall hit 17,469, a 1.6 percent increase compared to last fall. Space constraints will limit the university’s total enrollment increase to 165 more students than last year at the same time, or up to about 6,360.

J. Michael Thompson, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management, has said he expects to increase enrollment by about 300 in 2015 and 2016. The increases would be modest compared to about a decade of fast-paced growth.

UC Merced officials have a goal, dubbed Project 2020, of reaching 10,000 students by 2020 with 1,000 at the graduate level. Officials have also proposed consolidating some of the university’s support staff to a single downtown Merced location, reducing travel and public safety costs. The roughly 1,000 staff members could double as the university grows.

Despite a lull in the number of students enrolling at the university, the campus continues to expand. Crews are expected to begin work this month on Classroom and Office Building 2.

That $54 million project consists of 77,000 square feet of cavernous lecture halls, as well as smaller classrooms and offices. Planned are 120-seat, 150-seat and a 210-seat stadium-style halls, two more traditional lecture halls that seat 90, laboratories and offices.

That building is expected to be complete when classes begin in spring 2016.

 

Sun-Star staff writer Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or tmiller@mercedsunstar.com.

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