University of California, Merced – Pavilion at Little Lake

Guided by a long-range vision of sustainable planning and design, the Pavilion at Little Lake is a dining hall that forms a central gathering place at the University of California, Merced. The building is designed to build a sense of community on campus: it creates a critical link between student housing and the academic quad, while connecting occupants to the surrounding landscape. Through its open plan, circulation strategies, and transparent character, it provides a socially focused culinary environment.

Inspired by the Central Valley’s vernacular agricultural buildings, the Pavilion at Little Lake connects the past with present, utilizing simple, modern materials and expressed structure to create an expansive and engaging indoor-outdoor dining experience. Interiors are open and filled with daylight, and designed for the evolving needs of the campus. Flexible seating transforms over the course of a day, from community dining to lectures, dances, and concerts.

As the centerpiece of the UC Merced 2020 Campus Development, the Pavilion at Little Lake aims to reduce energy usage through conservation and renewable generation. Leveraging the form of the region’s historic architecture—the simple, durable agricultural and industrial sheds found throughout the Central Valley—the dining hall reinforces a sense of place while minimizing environmental impact. Its monolithic roof, designed to collect rainwater, also allows for increased water conservation through stormwater harvesting in response to the region’s hot, arid summers and mild, rainy winters. The high-efficiency, low-waste building has achieved LEED Platinum with metrics that exceed the baseline.