UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Student Services and Administration Center

The site for the new Veterinary Medicine Student Services and Administration Center (VMSSAC) for UC Davis’ top-ranked School of Veterinary Medicine called for a design that forms a gateway between the Health Sciences campus and the adjacent 100-acre arboretum. The VMSSAC is comprised of two distinct structures, a two-story administrative building housing offices, research spaces, graduate learning environments, and a single-story dining pavilion, which work together to frame a passageway. Composed of a series of outdoor rooms, this passageway provides direct circulation and access to the arboretum and events lawn even when the buildings are not being used. The project also defines the landscape flow from the arboretum to the spine of campus, strengthening existing campus patterns of circulation and open space.

Within the office building, an active and transparent ground floor on the pedestrian way culminates in a gracious porch along the event lawn. The second floor office bar is punctuated by large windows to the north, bringing diffuse natural daylight, and a long, shaded window to the south, which captures views of the arboretum. This bar hovers, bridge-like, over the more transparent ground floor, creating a visual lightness at the main vehicular approach. The dining pavilion is configured in three prominent masses — coffee house / market, servery, and dining room — organized to provide a sense of welcome, vitality, and connection to the arboretum and events lawn.

The material palette harmonizes with the Health Sciences campus and complements the arboretum landscape. The major volumes are clad in cement plaster, grounded by a series of concrete block volumes that relate to the ground plane, the landscape and adjacent campus buildings. The public components are highlighted by expanses of clear glazing shaded by painted metal trellises and oak wood slat soffits.

Given the prominence of the site, design had to anticipate future growth and overall campus cohesion. In particular, the design anticipates the planned Arboretum Visitors’ Center and Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital Expansion. The future expansion and the west façade of the VMSSAC will frame a central space at the heart of the Health Sciences campus. The café, which will be shared with the public, is positioned to feel readily available to arboretum visitors.

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