University of California, Merced (UC Merced), along with its public-private partnership (P3) development team, Plenary Properties Merced (PPM), recently celebrated the opening of two new housing structures, a 600-seat multipurpose dining facility, and new classrooms. The milestone marks the delivery of the first phase of Merced 2020, an unprecedented higher education expansion project. Attended by faculty, students, and local dignitaries, an opening celebration on Thursday, August 16th commemorated the shared commitment to complete the first phase of the campus’ expansion on time and ready for students who moved in over the weekend to begin their fall term.
“As the UC campus with the highest percentage of first-generation students, and the system’s most ethnically diverse campus, we strive to provide a world-class education and research opportunities for students from the Central Valley and throughout California,” said UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland. “The Merced 2020 Project will allow us to serve even more students, while supporting our campus' commitment to sustainability and further expanding the economic and educational impact we’ve already made in the San Joaquin Valley.”
The four-year Merced 2020 Project will add approximately 1.2 million gross square feet of teaching, research, residential, and student-support facilities to the existing campus. Driving the expansion is the PPM team, led by developer and equity provider Plenary Group in partnership with Webcor, the project’s design-build lead. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) serves as the lead campus planner and Johnson Controls Inc. leads operations and maintenance. The 13-building project broke ground in 2016 with the goal to deliver all buildings by 2020. The first phase of buildings and infrastructure amount to more than 250,000 square feet of space and 16.5 acres of site, which were designed and constructed in just 24 months following financial close. The value of work delivered is $650 million at the conclusion of Phase 1 and includes the second and third phases underway at varying stages of construction.
“We are well on our way to meeting our delivery and sustainability goals for the UC Merced 2020 Project, and this milestone marks a tremendous occasion for the university and our PPM team,” said Dale Bonner, Executive Chairman of Plenary Concessions. “We are incredibly proud to see this project setting the standard for P3 partnerships in the higher education sector.”
Completed and delivered as part of the first phase, SOM’s new and modern-designed dining hall, oriented to face the campus’ Little Lake, provides indoor and outdoor seating as well as smaller dining rooms that are intended to support engagement and relaxation. The two residence halls, designed by Page and Mahlum, respectively, are mixed-use housing undergraduate students, as well as including conference rooms, 20 classrooms, retail, and community spaces. Key features of the buildings include energy-efficient design and systems that surpass the current Title 24 requirements by 33 percent, and it will utilize 40 percent less water for indoor uses than the national standard.
Having established the original UC Merced master plan, and having designed the first two buildings on campus, SOM returned to design a central dining facility that will serve as a hub of student activity and a link between the new and existing parts of the campus. The facility reinterprets the traditional, industrial agricultural shed to create an expansive interior dining space that encourages community engagement and supports a socially-focused dining environment.
Leading the Merced 2020 design-build construction process, Webcor places great emphasis on employing the local labor workforce, including 17 San Joaquin Valley subcontractors, and it purchases materials locally whenever possible. The builder has also collaborated with UC Merced to use the project as a learning laboratory for its business and engineering students, including for internships and hiring programs. Webcor has hired seven full time UC Merced students upon graduation who have honed their analytical, engineering, and communication skills as interns on the project.
“This momentous milestone for UC Merced brings to light the unwavering efforts of the design-build team and the success and innovation a true P3 partnership can bring,” said Webcor President and CEO Jes Pedersen. “This project is also a great example of how Webcor seeks to improve communities and local economies. We’ve made it our mission to utilize the regional subcontracting community, provide education and on-the-job training for UC Merced students, and assist local nonprofits with various projects and support throughout the region.”
Webcor is deeply ingrained in community service and philanthropic giving throughout Merced, including revitalizing the Merced Boys and Girls Club through Rebuilding Together; volunteering at the Chamber of Commerce Kids’ Backpack Giveaway and at the Society of Women Engineers “Expanding Your Horizons” STEM event for girls; and constructing and donating a Performing Arts Center stage at El Capitan High School in Merced and shelving for the Merced Food Bank.
About Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is one of the leading architecture, interior design, engineering, and urban planning firms in the world. Since its founding more than 80 years ago, SOM has earned a reputation for design excellence with a portfolio that includes some of the most important architectural accomplishments of the 20th and 21st centuries, and has been a leader in the research and development of specialized technologies, new processes and innovative ideas, many of which have had a palpable and lasting impact on the design profession and the physical environment. The firm’s longstanding leadership in design and building technology has been honored with nearly 2,000 awards for quality, innovation, and management. The American Institute of Architects has recognized SOM twice with its highest honor, the Architecture Firm Award—in 1962 and again in 1996. The firm maintains offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Dubai, and Mumbai.
About Plenary Group
Plenary is North America’s leading long-term investor, developer and operator of public infrastructure. With a reputation built on having delivered diverse and challenging privately-financed public infrastructure projects, Plenary prides itself on innovation and delivering first-class infrastructure on-time and on-budget. Plenary’s project portfolio of $13.5 billion across both the United States and Canada includes 32 projects in the health, transportation, defense, justice, education and government accommodation sectors. Plenary is recognized for its holistic approach to delivering projects – embracing finance, planning, design and construction, complementary commercial development, asset management and operations. Learn more at www.plenarygroup.com
Webcor is a premier provider of commercial construction services, known for its innovative and efficient approach, wide range of experience, cost effective design-build methodology, skill in concrete construction and expertise in building landmark projects. Webcor’s mission is to build structures of superior quality with integrity, continuously improve its processes through employing the best talent in the industry and add social and economic value to its communities. Founded in 1971 and repeatedly honored as one of the Greenest Builders in California, Healthiest Employers, Top Corporate Philanthropists, Best Places to Work and Largest California Construction Firms, Webcor has offices throughout the state in San Francisco, Alameda, San Jose and Los Angeles. More information about the company is available via its website or by following the company on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About UC Merced
UC Merced opened in 2005 as the newest member of the University of California system, and is the youngest university to earn a Carnegie research classification. The fastest-growing public university in the nation, UC Merced enjoys a special connection with nearby Yosemite National Park, is on the cutting edge of sustainability in campus construction and design, and supports high-achieving and dedicated students from the underserved San Joaquin Valley and throughout California. The Merced 2020 Project, a $1.3 billion public-private partnership that is unprecedented in higher education, will nearly double the physical capacity of the campus and support enrollment growth to 10,000 students.