UC Merced to nearly double its size by 2020

Its growth strategy includes adding 1.2 million sf of space for teaching, housing, and research. 

October 19, 2016 |

To accommodate rises in its national stature and enrollment, UC Merced has embarked on an ambitious four-year expansion program that will add new academic, housing, and student-life facilities to its enlarged campus. Image: University of California, Merced

The University of California, Merced has launched a $1.3 billion expansion that will nearly double its physical capacity over the next four years, and support enrollment growth to 10,000 students, from around 6,700 today.

Its Merced 2020 Project will add 1.2 million sf in academic, housing, and student-life facilities. These will include three new teaching and research lab buildings, 1,700 new beds for on-campus housing, 1,500 new parking spaces, a student wellness center, and the expansion of the university’s childhood education center.

This project will add a new entrance to campus and transit hub to improve student circulation. Students will have new dining options, too, as well as a conference center for community and campus events, and NCAA-II class outdoor athletic and recreation fields and a pool.

The first of three phases broke ground on October 14, and the project will be completed in phases from the Fall of 2018 through the Fall of 2020.

UC Merced opened on 2005 in California’s San Joaquin Valley. It is the 10th and youngest school in California university system, but UC Merced is attracting more students and rising in national rankings. Last year, it received 22,000 undergraduate applications for 2,100 open spots. “We’re coming of age in a remarkably quick period of time,” Dorothy Leland, UC Merced’s Chancellor, told the Los Angeles Times.

Merced 2020 will increase the size of the campus to 219 acres, from 104 today. The university has signed a 39-year contract—approved by the University of California Board of Regents in July—with Plenary Properties Merced (PPM), a private development consortium, to maintain major building operations at an annual cost of $10 million. PPM is responsible for the design, construction, operations, maintenance and partial financing for all new facilities added under the expansion program.

The development team includes Plenary Group (lead developer, equity provider, and financial arranger), Skidmore Owings & Merrill (campus planner), Webcor Construction (GC), and Johnson Controls (lead operations and management firm).

Merced 2020 is projected to produce a one-time benefit of $1.9 billion for the San Joaquin Valley and $2.4 billion statewide. It is expected to create hundreds of permanent jobs.


UC President Janet Napolitano (center left), MC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland (center), and UC Board of Regents Chairwoman Monica Lozano (center right), join UC Merced students during a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off the Merced 2020 project. Image: UC Merced.



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