Classroom and Academic Office Building

UC Merced is the newest campus in the University of California system and is strategically located to address higher education needs in the Central Valley, the state’s fastest growing region. The three-story, 77,000-square-foot CAOB provides a variety of learning spaces including large, stepped lecture halls; tutorial and seminar classrooms; interdisciplinary dry research labs; and supporting faculty, administrative, and graduate student office space.


University of California, Merced


Merced, CA


Architecture /
Campus Environments /
Learning Environments /
Interior Design /
Campus Environments /


77,000 SF

LEED Platinum


2018 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference – Best Practices Award for Overall Sustainable Design

The building supports UC Merced’s curriculum with technologically progressive spaces. The Technology Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) classroom allows students to work collaboratively and flip the classroom through technological interface including student directed visualizations, electronic polling, and guided instruction within a single class session. The Digital Humanities Lab introduces students to multimedia though the media wall, which provides an interactive digital presentation environment. The Wide-Area Visualization Environment (WAVE) provides an opportunity to learn through virtual immersion with a full room-sized, high-resolution 3D audio-visual environment.

Square Feet

The building’s form and materiality responds to the Central Valley’s utilitarian structures.  Likewise, the building’s character incorporates sustainable strategies in response to the environmental influences with particular attention given to mitigating sun and wind exposures. An exterior covered walkway along the southeast façade of the building is deep enough to fully shade the classroom and lecture halls from direct solar heat gain. Southwest-facing glass is protected through a layered façade, with 24-inch deep horizontal and vertical shades mitigating afternoon and early evening sun. Windows for offices facing northwest are shielded by vertical fins, minimizing direct solar heat gain in the late afternoon. These strategies, combined with a robust thermal envelope and utilization of campus plant-generated utilities, are projected to result in 33 percent energy savings below California Title 24 requirements. The building is LEED Platinum, contributing to the University’s Triple Net-Zero Commitment.