Skip to content Skip to navigation

Central Plant Receives Top Award for Distinguished Design from American Institute of Architects

May 4, 2007

Central Plant is key component of university’s commitment
to sustainable development and environmental leadership

MERCED - The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has selected
the University of California, Merced’s first building complex,
known as the Central Plant, to receive a 2007 Institute Honor Award
for Architecture.

The award is the profession’s “highest recognition of works that
exemplify excellence in architecture,” according to the prestigious
architectural group. The UC Merced complex is one of only 11
structures in the world to receive citations in this category for 2007.

“The exterior aspects, the quality of the interior spaces, site
considerations, environmental issues, and social relevance were all
factors in distinguishing the final selections,” said AIA Jury
Chair Richard Logan. “The range of winning projects demonstrates
both the power and diversity of great architecture.”

UC Merced’s Central Plant includes a three-story building that
houses most of the university’s power and infrastructure
operations, as well as a telecommunications building and a large
water-storage tank.

The AIA award jury found the innovative use of glass in the main
building to be especially effective in diffusing light throughout
the complex, enhancing daylighting efficiency.

The complex was recognized as “beautifully sensitive to
architecture and engineering,” with a “humanistic quality that
clearly recognizes someone is working inside.” It is “an icon on
the landscape and discipline at its best,” the jury noted - a
“jubilant example of the use of steel and glass that celebrates the
beauty of materials that work so well with the landscape.”

The Central Plant is a key component in the university’s plans
to meet or exceed the UC Board of Regents’ mandates for sustainable
development and high-level energy efficiency in all new buildings.
UC Merced’s objective is to earn campus-wide LEED Silver
certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, which uses a
points-based system to measure environmental impacts of development
under its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. UC
Merced is believed to be the only university in the country seeking
LEED Silver certification for all of its buildings.

“This award is more than a tip of the cap to great-looking
architecture,” said Tom Lollini, associate vice chancellor for
physical planning, design and construction. “It’s important
recognition that the university’s commitment to be an asset to the
community, to build attractive facilities and set an example of
intelligent, sustainable development can be realized with grace and beauty.”

The Central Plant complex was designed by architectural firm
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP of San Francisco, under contract
to UC Merced. It was built by Swinerton Builders of San Francisco.