UTLF front view
March 25, 2024

UC Regents approve plan for four-story, 1,700-seat instructional building

Summer construction start for Undergraduate Teaching and Learning Facility

Author: Imran Ghori
March 25, 2024

UC Riverside will begin construction this summer on a four-story building with a focus on instructional education, which was approved March 20 by the Regents of the University of California.

The vote allows the campus to move forward with the Undergraduate Teaching and Learning Facility, a 100,700-square-foot building that will be constructed on Parking Lot 19, south of the UCR Soccer Stadium. It will have a prominent location near the westside campus entrance at Canyon Crest Drive where University Avenue ends.

Expected to be completed by summer 2026, the $156.3 million project continues UCR’s efforts to provide much-needed classroom space, said Jacqueline Norman, campus architect. The Regents had already approved funding last year for planning and design to be completed, which allows the campus to move forward quickly.

The new building will have a seating capacity of 1,700 with a focus on undergraduate education, particularly high-demand, lower-division breadth requirement courses in need of general assignment classrooms. 

The larger classrooms — with high-powered technology that meets the needs of disciplines like computer science — will be available for a wide variety of courses while the labs and studio will be used for biology, chemistry, and dance classes.

“Students of all different backgrounds pursuing different interests will be in the same space and be seeing these other activities going on around them,” Norman said. “I think it will be one of the more exciting learning environments on campus because of that.”

It will be the second new instructional building on campus in three years following the Student Success Center in 2021, which added 1,100 seats and was the first expansion in classroom space in many years. 

The project takes another step in reducing the estimated 4,500-seat deficit the campus has in meeting growing enrollment and is part of $1.5 billion in campus construction over about five years, Norman said. 

An artist rendering of the central courtyard for the Undergraduate Teaching and Learning Facility.

The building will include two lecture halls, 19 mid- to small-sized classrooms, six biology labs, four chemistry labs, and a dance studio. They provide an overall 18% increase in general assignment seats, a 54% increase in biology class lab seats, and a 20% increase in chemistry lab seats over the current campus capacity.

The space was designed through an analysis of major and course enrollments, waitlist data, and room scarcity, said Melissa Garrety, senior campus planner with the Office of Planning, Design and Construction. It provides space for those in most need, particularly lower-division breadth requirement courses in the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering; the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences; and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The design also incorporates feedback from a campus survey planners sent out that 1,600 people responded to last year on what kind of space should be included, Garrety said. Students wanted more study areas like at the Student Success Center, which often fill up. As a result, the facility includes more study lounges, including a reading room at the top floor that offers picturesque views of the surrounding area. 

Faculty members sought smaller instructional rooms so the building includes two lecture halls that fit 125 and 150 students with the rest geared towards smaller discussion sections or writing courses.

The labs — the first instructional wet labs built on campus in many years — will provide a significant upgrade in technology and design, including better sight lines, easier mobility, and increased storage space for equipment and materials, Garrety said.

An artist rendering of a biology lab at the Undergraduate Teaching and Learning Facility.

Likewise, the dance studio provides a major increase in space for the Department of Dance and is bigger than the three studios it uses in the Arts Building and Athletics and Dance Building. The new studio design features modern lighting and a sprung wood flooring that absorbs shocks while allowing for flexibility and grip. It offers additional space, connecting to an outdoor performance area with a covered pavilion and a composite wood surface.

The overall building design expands on campus architectural tradition with its own spin, combining brick found in early campus buildings, a concrete shear wall, metal grilles, and extensive clear glass that allows for large daylit spaces, Garrety said.

“It’s very unique and unto itself, and responsive to the site,” she said.

Featuring an outdoor plaza, the project will knit together walkways around the building including links to the new North District student housing to the north and the heart of campus to the south. It’s expected to become a hub of activity due to those connections and the transit hub on Canyon Crest Drive.

“The design that was selected is responsive to the important of circulation, both around and throughout the building,” Norman said. “The design team has created a space that will be beautiful and welcoming not only to campus but for the community.”

Header image: An artist rendering of the Undergraduate Teaching and Learning Facility from University Avenue.

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