University of California Irvine Merage School of Business Addition

Irvine, California

Project Size:

80,000 square feet

Project Status:

Completed 2014

LEED Status:

Certified LEED New Construction Platinum


Education Design

Associate Architect:

Carrier Johnson+Culture

Selected Awards

2015 Design-Build Institute of America

National Design-Build Project/Team Award

The addition project expands the Merage School of Business to form a continuous complex organized around a central courtyard. Interconnected community spaces bridge from inside to outside across multiple levels, reinforcing the business school’s emphasis on team-based learning, peer networking and interdisciplinary research. Careful integration of the outdoor spaces within UCI Irvine’s campus planning framework creates a hierarchy of engagement.

Site and Program
The Addition engages the overall campus plan as one of a series of linkages between the campus core at Aldrich Park and peripheral facility nodes. The design animates this gateway experience with a social mixing zone between the two Merage School buildings, as well as a shared plaza with the School of Social Ecology.

The central courtyard forms the heart of the program—linking the new and existing facilities, opening up to a ground floor café and retail unit through an operable window wall, spilling directly into the atrium lobby of the new facility. The glass-enclosed, double-height atrium creates an interior focal point where circulation patterns of classrooms, the auditorium and the central grand stair converge to generate a constant hum of activity and spontaneous encounters. A third-floor roof terrace supports the faculty and administrative functions of the upper floors, with open, external stairs and glazed walkways capturing expansive views and the pulse of activity as key ingredients of the spatial experience.

Every space in the building builds on the School’s fundamental values of interaction and teamwork, navigating between multiple communities on a continual basis. Key to this dynamic of social performance is providing choices for space utilization across group sizes and forms of interaction while optimizing quality of space. The ground level provides two distinct program zones, reflecting the facility’s dual purpose as a stand-alone professional school and campus-wide learning facility. The ellipse-shaped auditorium volume, expressed in the curving campus-facing façade of the Addition, can be accessed from two sides—an interior entry from within the School’s atrium, as well as an exterior entry that opens to an arcade with spillover seating for a Starbucks café. This outer forecourt completes a circular shared plaza with the Social Sciences quad, forming the Merage School’s most public community area.

Moving from the entry quad into the School’s central courtyard, the experience shifts in focus to the business school community, integrating multiple diverse programs. Circulation pathways in both buildings intersect the courtyard, where festive strings of lights overhead define the space in relationship to internal views across all floor levels. A movable window-wall separates the indoor dining commons from outdoor café seating, enabling continuous first-floor space suitable for large gatherings. Overlooking the courtyard, a third-floor terrace serves as an informal commons adjacent to faculty and staff offices. On the uppermost fifth floor is the Colloquium Room, a multi-functional executive conference venue that commands expansive territorial views from its exterior terrace.