On a sunny Southern California spring day, more than a hundred students, faculty and campus leaders gathered at the edge of a big hole in the ground to celebrate the groundbreaking for UC Irvine’s new University Extension building (yes, real construction work was already well underway).  The 76,000 SF LEED Platinum facility will serve as home to UCI Extension’s continuing education programs through both on-site and distance learning courses that serve over 30,000 enrollments across local, regional and international constituencies.  The design is the product of a design/build competition won by the Hathaway Dinwiddie team—with LMN (design architect) working in collaboration with Carrier Johnson (prime architect).

UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman and Dean of Continuing Education Gary Matkin spoke about the core mission of University Extension, expanding higher education access to under-served communities and the passionate commitment of its students, staff and faculty.  Rebekah Gladson, University Architect, described how the design relates to the overall campus while creating a welcoming, interactive learning environment—engaging the UCI experience at all levels.

Instructional, office, circulation and community spaces are organized around a central courtyard to take advantage of the benign climate and provide a clear heart to the program.  An expansive photovoltaic trellis shades the courtyard while generating on-site energy—it also makes an emphatic welcome gesture that embodies the program’s external educational partnerships and pathways.  Technology-intensive classrooms and recording studios serve both on-site classes as well as various forms of distance learning pedagogies.

Scheduled for completion in Summer 2016, the total design and construction effort will be 26 months.