UC Merced Arts and Computational Sciences Building achieves LEED Platinum Certification

UC Merced Arts and Computational Sciences Building achieves LEED Platinum Certification

The Arts and Computational Sciences Building advances the University’s ambitious “Merced 2020” expansion and acts in part to doubles the campus’s size with 1.2 million gross square feet using the Public Private Partnership (P3) delivery model.  UC Merced’s Triple Zero Commitment—zero net energy consumption, zero waste production, and zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2020—was integral to the design approach, putting a fine point on the ways in which a complicated, large-scale project can enhance campus life while also realizing long-term efficiencies in Operations & Maintenance. “Live/Learn” became a guiding theme in the planning and design of the Arts and Computational Sciences Building, which includes computational labs, administrative workspaces, dance studios, painting workshops, screening rooms, informal indoor/outdoor spaces, music and sound recording rooms, and a large 299-seat auditorium and lecture hall serving campus-wide events.

The Arts and Computational Sciences Building recently achieved LEED Platinum Certification. The building is massed and oriented for optimal energy efficiency and comfort within the context of Merced’s often hot climate. Long and thin, it is oriented along an east/west axis and expressed as a perforated bar with exterior shades to protect interior spaces from harsh morning sun. Daylight and views reach into all spaces, including the computational labs, achieved through internal glazing and thoughtful space planning. These strategies support a passive design approach that maximizes comfort and alertness amongst students while realizing energy efficiency goals at the building scale. A single, low-temperature variable air volume handler is located on the basement level freeing the roof for a future investment in PV panels. These panels would augment the current 5 MW campus-wide photovoltaic arrays, constructed as part of the UC Merced 2020 commitment to renewable energy delivery.

The auditorium was crafted simply and elegantly by local tradespeople using regional wood species. Modular, offsite fabrication helped achieve technical accuracy as well as cost and schedule efficiencies.

A hearth and connector, the Arts and Computational Sciences Building interprets the Live/Learn motif on its site and within the campus. A brise-soleil, with angled cast-in-place concrete columns, runs along the south side of the building, offering students an outdoor, sheltered gathering space and comfortable transition from the quad to the interior. As a shading device that is sculptural, the brise-soleil extends to the upper floors as the building’s primary circulation, supporting building efficiency and promoting wellness. The exposed cast in place concrete columns also provide thermal mass to mitigate swings in temperature throughout the day.