UC Merced | Science and Engineering 2
Merced, CA
Photos: Photos: Bruce Damonte, R+C
“The availability and response time for both answers and consultation was excellent. The willingness to at times simply help brain storm through issues was paramount to the success of the project since many of the structural elements are exposed finishes and many tie into finish elements with very tight tolerances.”—Project Contractor

Structural Engineering
102,000 sf
LEED Platinum
Key Info

  • Includes three-story canopy composed of vertical and horizontal PV panels
  • Integrates structural and MEP systems into tight space to allow for open, flexible usable areas


The Science and Engineering 2 building continues UC Merced's quest for high sustainability in design and function. It is the second building to accommodate instruction and research programs in the School of Engineering and the School of Natural Sciences. The three-story 102,000 sf building includes open and flexible class laboratories, research laboratories, study facilities, collaborative breakout spaces, and academic and administrative offices. The building was designed to meet LEED Platinum standards.

A major design goal was to integrate the building with its surroundings, to provide indoor-outdoor space and connect to neighboring buildings. Structural solutions to achieve this goal:

  • integrated the steel framed structure with exposed concrete to fit within the campus context,
  • incorporated the structural and MEP systems essential to laboratory functions into tight 15-foot floor to ceiling height spaces,
  • and included design of a visually minimal support structure for a three-story photovoltaic panel canopy between buildings. The canopy is composed of vertical and horizontal PV panels.

Laboratories at the ground floor include adjacent porches, which serve as outdoor learning space. A pedestrian plaza and shaded walkways connect the buildings within the quad.

The building was designed with stellar energy performance in mind and serves as an experimentation space for renewable energy. The rooftop includes solar water heaters that are accessible and easily monitored for learning opportunities.

Rutherford + Chekene worked closely with UC Merced, the MEP engineer and the architect, utilizing BIM to facilitate collaboration and design.