Cal Maritime, Mayo Hall Historic Renovation – Student Life Center

With eleven projects at Cal Maritime, WRNS Studio has been instrumental in the evolution of this scenic waterfront campus where cadets train for careers in the maritime industries. Mayo Hall, featured here, was constructed in 1945 to honor fallen World War II cadets. One of the most historic and beloved buildings on campus, it served as Cal Maritime’s athletics and recreation center for over fifty years. The “Old Gym” has now been transformed— through a new addition and adaptive re-use of the existing structure—into a new center of campus life. Its diverse program includes student services, a multi-use events space, and Cal Maritime’s health center.

The Campus Physical Master Plan, also led by WRNS Studio, called for Mayo Hall to better integrate into the future of the campus. The building sits on a planned thoroughfare connecting the campus’s main quad and with dining and student housing. A modern single-story extension, entry canopy, and landscaped plaza help catalyze this thoroughfare by creating a warm welcome and offering a variety of outdoor gathering spaces. Clad in corrugated and smooth-fiber metal panels, the extension complements the existing brick structure with maritime references. The design approach restores up to 40% of the site’s landscape to encourage coastal biodiversity.

Mayo Hall is organized around a double-height circulation space, or concourse, that supports gathering, pre-function, and break-out activities, while providing connections to the historic structural shell of the gymnasium. During construction, a time capsule was uncovered, and relics from the capsule and the campus’s historic archives are now displayed along a gallery wall in the concourse. Two large multi-purpose rooms support registration and administration while the former natatorium houses a mix of student life and bistro spaces. A second-floor mezzanine inserted into the existing gymnasium adds much needed efficiency and square footage while creating an open loft-style workplace for student leadership and career services. Health Services occupies the new addition with its own separate and discrete entrance.

The project required a highly calibrated approach to meet carbon and energy goals while complying with the requirements of the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Historic Rehabilitation and the State Historic Preservation Office. The original building’s Colonial Revival motifs–from window patterning and materiality to large-scale structural components–needed to remain intact. Existing walls, bow windows, and gym flooring preserve the original character of the building. New windows installed below the sill height of the existing windows flood the concourse and conference rooms with natural light and offer views of the immediate harbor and greater bay. A rebuilt roof features ridge vents, operable clerestory windows, and high-performance glazing to enhance natural ventilation, solar control, and reduce glare, contributing to an anticipated energy cost savings of 86.5%. Responding to the damp coastal setting, all new walls were designed with an insulated water-resistant membrane and the exterior hardware is stainless steel to hold up against the cycles of rain, mist, fog, and sun.

Mayo Hall’s renovation brought a great opportunity to do more with less, resulting in beautiful design within a tight budget. After running a performance model, the design team determined that there was sufficient thermal mass in the existing concrete and brick walls to avoid additional insulation while meeting energy efficiency and waste reduction objectives. Approximately 80% of the interior finishes are composed of the existing concrete and wood structure. Likewise, the existing exposed wood deck was preserved in its original state and structurally insulated panels were added on top of the existing gabled roof deck to preserve the interior character of the exposed wood, providing an upgraded structural diaphragm and thermal insulation where it was most needed. 87% of construction and demolition waste was diverted from landfills.

Mayo Hall was delivered using Collaborative Design-Build, an integrated process in which WRNS Studio worked seamlessly with our builder partner, Otto Construction, to achieve a functional and cost-effective campus asset.

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