The first all-new campus in the University of California system since the late 1960s, UC Merced opened its doors to students for its first academic year in September 2005. The campus is the nation’s first public research university to be built in the 21st century and will be home to the Sierra Nevada Research Institute. The Leo Kolligian Library, The $37-million, concrete-frame structure is the first building on campus and is set to be the new university’s flagship building.

public_kolligian_libraryThe Leo Kolligian Library serves as a hub for research and study on the UC Merced campus. Library resources and services are available in the building as well from computers connected to the campus network and to the Internet. It houses the latest in high-tech features, complete with wi-fi communications.

The cast-in-place concrete structure contains a clear glass-paneled atrium that connects the library’s three- and four-story wings. Because the atrium’s fourth floor radiates light across campus when lit at night, the atrium has become known as “the lantern.” The atrium’s fourth floor houses a reading room with high-end finishes and wood paneling. On the bottom floor of the atrium is the library’s central entrance where four sections of roll-up, garage-style doors allow the entryway to become an open-air space during warm days.


When complete, the UC Merced campus will be the first in the country to reach LEED® Silver status.

The campus LEED scorecard so far is one silver certification, eight gold certifications and two platinum certifications, with five platinum certifications pending. Therefore, LEED standards were a main priority during construction of the Leo Kolligian Library. The library’s design takes full advantage of the sun in heating and cooling. Many aluminum sunshades are in place at various elevations along the library’s exterior to provide natural cooling benefits.

To meet LEED requirements, workers separated concrete, steel and wood waste into separate bins, which were shipped to a recycling center. Rigorous procedures were in place to reduce the amount of dust. In addition, many of the building's features include recycled materials and sustainable designs to cut down on the use of power and water.

Although the library’s original contract called for 50% fly ash in the concrete mix, the concrete subcontractor soon realized the challenges associated with this aggressive effort. The foundations were poured with the 50 percent fly ash mix, but when pouring began for the vertical columns, the mix design required a much longer curing time than other mixes. For the vertical columns, economics proved it wise to specify a 15 percent fly ash mixture, a mix design that maintained LEED standards.

Concrete was specified for the Leo Kolligian Library for its economic benefits as well as for its aesthetic properties. The building’s interior and exterior concrete was left exposed. Standard reinforcements were used throughout the building.


University of California, Merced

Skidmore Owings and Merrill; San Francisco, California
Fernau and Hartman; Berkeley, California

Structural Engineer:
Skidmore Owings and Merrill; San Francisco, California

General Contractor:
Swinerton Builders; San Francisco, California