UC Merced marked the end of the structural phase of construction for its Downtown Campus Center on June 22 when community partners signed a beam as a symbol of an effort to increase campus and community collaborations in Merced.
The new 67,400-square-foot, $45 million administrative facility is located on the corner of 18th and N streets, across from City Hall. The building, which can accommodate up to 370 people, will include offices, seminar and conference rooms, and mixed-use space.
“The location of the Downtown Campus Center was designed to forge stronger ties with the community and establish a visible presence that reflects our commitment to the city, the downtown area and the region,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “When we open the doors to this new building early next year, one of our goals is to help encourage collaboration with and among community partners, businesses and local entrepreneurs.”
The Downtown Campus Center is part of a long-term strategy to integrate UC Merced’s teaching, research and public service resources into the fabric of Merced.
“This three-story Downtown Campus Center will give UC Merced a much-need physical presence in the heart of our downtown, increasing the economic vitality of the downtown area and creating major new opportunities for collaboration between the university and the community,” Merced Mayor Mike Murphy said. “As a city, we’re already seeing the ripple effect of this investment by UC Merced.”
According to Murphy, the El Capitan Hotel will break ground this fall, the Mainzer Theater will begin major renovations, and other developments are in the works.
“It’s not a coincidence that so many big projects are occurring on this block in downtown,” Murphy said. “UC Merced and its Downtown Campus Center are driving this change.”
When a new building is erected, the campus has a tradition of inviting students, faculty and staff to sign one of the final construction beams as a way of celebrating forward progress.
“I thought it would be fitting to expand the campus tradition and invite everyone from the community who has an investment in the future of UC Merced and this community to sign this beam,” Leland said.
The beam will remain exposed in perpetuity in the Downtown Campus Center to demonstrate a collective commitment to strengthening the bond between UC Merced and the Merced community.
The business community is pleased by the campus’s substantial presence in downtown taking shape.
“We’d like to thank UC Merced for this incredible investment in our community,” said Robert Dylina, chairman of the Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce and a local business owner. ”The campus has had a tremendous impact on the business community.”
Once the Downtown Campus Center is completed early next year, a public ribbon-cutting will be held.