McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. is spending more time at the University of California, Merced (UC Merced) than most students. Just last week, the St. Louis-based company topped-out the structural steel on the new Science and Engineering Building 2, a significant milestone in the construction of the new facility. College officials, community members and McCarthy employees celebrated the milestone by signing the last steel beam to be used, which was then hoisted and secured in place.

The three-story, 101,900-sq-ft facility is the fourth project on campus for McCarthy in the last year. The other three are the recently completed Student Activities and Athletics Center; the Student Services Center, which broke ground in October 2012; and the Site Development and Infrastructure Phase 4 project, which is scheduled for completion in Fall 2013.

The Science and Engineering Building 2 will be a major education and research hub that will complete the academic core around the Carol Tomlinson-Keasey Quad on the UC Merced campus. The facility will house mechanical engineering, material science, computer science, environmental and bio-engineering studies, and will include classrooms, research space and laboratories, faculty offices, support space, administrative areas and a wind tunnel lab.

The project utilized building information modeling (“BIM”) technology, coupled with a state-of-the art virtual planroom, an approach that met the needs of the project and the overall campus goals. It is also on track to achieve LEED Platinum certification. Sustainable elements include solar hot water and power generation that will act as part of a living laboratory of renewable energy education while also serving as a source of the building’s energy supply. The building’s interior will feature an extensive use of recycled materials, including reclaimed wood for special ceilings and wall panels, which will help prevent indoor air pollution.

Near Science and Engineering Building 2 is the $10 million Student Activities and Athletics Center, which opened last August. This 21,000-sq-ft facility increases the campus’ recreation space by nearly 70 % and is seeking LEED Platinum certification. The facility includes cardio-vascular and workout studios, an Outdoor Adventures activities area, meeting rooms, training facilities, and offices spaces for the recreational and athletics programs.

Designed by WRNS Studio, the project features sustainable items such as sun shading to provide maximum daylighting with minimal solar gain, grass pavers for the fire lane integrated into the landscaping and drought tolerant planting comprised of mostly native or adaptive plants. The standing seam roof, plaster, glazing, metal screens and fins were selected to compliment the surrounding campus context while maintaining high standards of sustainability.

Then there is the 34,000 sq-ft Student Services Center, a two-building project consisting of a one story pavilion lecture hall and a three story steel frame structure to accommodate critically needed classroom and instructional space. The $20 million project, targeted for LEED Platinum, is located on a small triangular parcel northeast of the Social Sciences and Management Building. The one-story pavilion is scheduled to complete this fall and the other structure the end of next year. CO Architects are the designers.

McCarthy is also working on the Site Development and Infrastructure, Phase 4 project, which includes various buried utility work, audio/visual infrastructure, access road improvements, electrical upgrades, and pump station upgrades.

All projects underway on campus will adhere to UC Merced’s original campus charter to showcase environmentally responsible construction. As the first university campus in the nation to have all of its buildings certified by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, UC Merced is one of the country’s most sustainable university campuses.