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The $1.3 billion public-private partnership will help the University address coronavirus.

MERCED, Calif. — Crawford Architects is celebrating the completion of Merced 2020, the $1.3 billion comprehensive development and expansion of the University of California, Merced campus. The project, which included the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of 22 facilities, was completed this June, ahead of the fall 2020 semester.

Merced 2020 is the nation’s largest social infrastructure public-private partnership (P3) developed to date. P3s are collaborations between a government entity and the private sector to design, build, finance, operate, or maintain a project, which allows for the development of public infrastructure that the government entity otherwise couldn’t have completed in the same time frame or cost.

The Crawford team, which served as the design review manager and coordinated the project on behalf of UC Merced through the construction administration phase, has been working on the project since 2016.

“Crawford Architects is thrilled to see the completion of such a visionary and transformational project,” said Stacey Jones, owner and principal architect at Crawford. “Merced 2020 offers a roadmap for other higher education institutions who have interest in using the P3 method to create needed campus infrastructure while utilizing private sector resources.”

The project includes the elements of academic, administrative, research, recreational, athletics, student housing and student services buildings, utilities and infrastructure, outdoor open space areas, and associated roadways, parking and landscaping. Recreation and Athletics facilities include competition fields with bleacher seating for Soccer, Football and Lacrosse; 2 x additional Recreation Fields; Olympic-size Competition Swimming Pool; Outdoor Tennis and Basketball Courts; Student Wellness and Counselling Center.

Delivery occurred in three phases, beginning in mid-July 2018, with the second phase finished in mid-2019 and the final phase delivered in June. The project has not only fulfilled the university’s long-term vision, but will help UC Merced respond to the coronavirus this coming semester.

“The project’s on-time completion significantly improved UC Merced’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic,” said Nathan Brostrom, UC Merced’s Interim Chancellor. “The additional space we have opened on campus will be critical in ensuring that we could comply with social distancing requirements while still serving our students who remained on campus. We are grateful for these partnerships.”

Crawford Architects was part of the Project Delivery Team at UC Merced, which was overseen by UC Merced’s Physical Operations, Planning and Development and WT Partnership. The team also included AECOM as engineering advisor and Woods Bagot as design advisor for laboratory and academic space. Crawford Architects served as the design advisor for academic, housing, recreation and athletics facilities.

The project was developed by Plenary Properties Merced (PPM), and was led by developer and equity provider Plenary in partnership with Webcor; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, the lead campus planner; and Johnson Controls Inc, which is responsible for operations and maintenance.

“This is one of the most sustainable projects that I’ve been a part of,” said James Franklin, the Crawford Architects project manager. “The 2020 Project incorporates a triple zero commitment which pledges to consume zero net energy, produce zero waste and zero net greenhouse gas emissions. All fourteen buildings are designed to achieve a minimum LEED Gold certification. However, many of the buildings have exceeded that goal by achieving LEED Platinum certification. This is accomplished through the combination of an onsite solar array, an arduous recycling & waste management program, efficient building systems and design elements. I am honored to have been able to witness the physical transformation as I’ve been onsite from start to finish. The project required a disciplined process which included meticulous communication among various parties to meet an aggressive schedule. As a result, the project was delivered on schedule and on budget!”

To learn more about the project, visit