UC Santa Cruz Kresge College — Santa Cruz, CA

UCSC Mass Timber Student Housing

UC Santa Cruz Kresge Renewal Mass Timber Residence Halls and Academic Building in Redwood Forest Northern California
New Construction - 125,000 SF
Renovations - 150,000 SF
New Construction - Studio Gang
Renovations - TEF
Mass Timber Suppliers
Residence Halls - KLH USA & Hasslacher
Academic Center - Structurlam & Zip-o Laminators
Sustainable Benchmark:
LEED Silver
AIA San Francisco - Honor Award

Kresge College has long represented a community of independent thinkers with its experimental merging of academic, social, and environmental spaces. Its hallmark 1970s architecture includes skewed angles, piazzas, and a pedestrian bridge through a redwood grove. As structures near the end of their lifespans, UC Santa Cruz has invested in a phased renewal program to sustainably carry Kresge into the 21st century. Kresge’s revitalization includes some of the first completed mass timber student housing in the United States.

Four mass timber additions underscore connection with the forest and campus community. These include three five-story residence halls with 400 beds and a curvilinear three-story academic center. Construction showcases CLT floor and roof diaphragms over glulam beams, light-frame walls, and concrete podiums. The next phase is refurbishing and reprogramming 12 buildings. Through Design-Build delivery, Holmes provided overall fire and life safety code consulting as well as structural engineering of the mass timber components. Kresge targets LEED Silver certification, built to exceed California energy efficiency codes.

Completed mass timber student housing in California at UC Santa Cruz Kresge College, CLT buildings in evening light on campus with students
New Mass Timber Residence Halls
Glowing CLT diaphragms evening light UC Santa Cruz Kresge student housing and academic building in California
CLT buildings glow in the misty redwood grove
Mass timber academic building classroom with exposed CLT ceiling and curved glulam beams
Mass Timber Academic Building with Curved CLT Ceiling and Long-Span Glulam Beams

During construction documentation, the project team sought a more proactive fire and life safety consultant: Swinerton selected Holmes for our responsiveness and ability to perform design reviews under tight scheduling. Holmes provided a swift code-based analysis for compliance with an emphasis on egress, fire ratings for assembly spaces, and input on buildable construction types. Code consulting moved mass timber designs through permitting and construction.

Holmes was also brought on by Swinerton as Specialty Structural Engineer of Record for the mass timber elements. Structural engineers and fire engineers collaborated to maintain optimal mass timber exposure throughout the additions. Solutions showcase the warmth of wood pairing Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) diaphragms with glulam beams and columns. All additions achieved the required fire ratings and are designed to maintain structural integrity after fire-induced char.

Completed Curved Mass Timber Academic Building at UC Santa Cruz Kresge College in Forest at Evening
Curved Mass Timber Academic Building and Residence Hall Aerial View UC Santa Cruz Kresge
Construction aerial of academic building and residence halls
Exposed CLT Floors at Mass Timber Kresge College Dorm Room
Dorm rooms showcase CLT diaphragms and forest views
UC Santa Cruz Kresge Campus Dorm with Exposed Mass Timber CLT Ceiling in California with students
Interior of a mass timber residence hall with exposed CLT ceilings and supporting glulam columns

Structurally, Holmes designed CLT-paneled roofs, floors, glulam beams and columns for a cohesive campus feel. Careful detailing minimizes beam-to-column and column-to-floor connections. The use of hidden fasteners casts the illusion of floating columns. For beam-to-column connections, Ricon connections recess into the beam concealing hardware. Base connections were drilled underneath the column and grouted to a rod, fixed to the floor with gypcrete encasing the column. Glazing attachments directly point back to the timber structure. More broadly, Holmes accommodated curving forms that spark architectural interest and minimized the removal of redwood trees.

Exterior of UC Santa Cruz Kresge Residence Hall Dorm in Forest with Students and Exposed Glulam Columns
Exterior of Mass Timber Dorm
Mass Timber Lecture Hall in California at UC Santa Cruz UCSC Kresge College in Forest with Students
Interior of Mass Timber Lecture Hall
Curved Glulam Beams and CLT Floor at Kresge College UC Santa Cruz with Redwood Forest Studio Gang

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