University of California, Merced – 2020 Project

The University of California, Merced is the youngest campus in the UC system and the first North American research university to be established in the 21st century. Its mission is to cultivate a community bound by learning, discovery, and engagement, while also celebrating the heritage of the San Joaquin Valley and playing an important role in the region's future.

After designing the university's original master plan in 2002, SOM was honored to lead the 2020 Project—an ambitious public-private partnership that nearly doubles the campus footprint to support the enrollment of 10,000 students by the year 2020. The project consists of a new campus plan, design guidelines, infrastructure, open space, and 11 new buildings, including state-of-the-art research facilities, laboratories, a greenhouse, and dining hall.

The project is sustainably designed to adapt for different uses and future expansion, with a master plan that is organized as a compact, walkable environment with dynamic public spaces that encourage spontaneous interaction. The university is the first public research institution in the U.S. to achieve carbon neutrality and the only academic campus to have every building LEED certified, with all 2020 Project buildings earning LEED Platinum certification.

The 2020 Project was delivered as a public-private partnership through Plenary Properties Merced, with SOM as the campus planner and master plan architect. The project team includes Webcor as design-build contractor, along with WRNS, Page, Mahlum, HOK, Arup, Atelier Ten, Hargreaves Associates, Cliff Lowe Associates, Interface Engineering, and Sherwood Design Engineers.