UC Davis Walker Hall Graduate Student Center

Walker Hall is an adaptive reuse of a vacant, seismically unsafe agricultural engineering building built in 1927, located at the historic core of the UC Davis campus. The project transformed the existing 34,000 square foot building into a graduate and professional student center with meeting rooms, a lecture hall, and sophisticated active-learning classrooms.


University of California, Davis


Davis, CA


34,000 sq. ft.


LEED Platinum

Image Credit

Richard Barnes, Bruce Damonte and Jeffrey Marsch

AIA CA Design For Resources Design Award
AIA CAE Education Facility Design Award, 2024
AIA Central Valley COTE Award
AIA Central Valley Divine Detail Award
AIA Central Valley Honor Award
Chicago Athenaeum Green Good Design Award: Green Architecture 2024

The revitalized Walker Hall provides a new Graduate Student Center that promotes interdisciplinary interactions and builds community for UC Davis graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. It supports graduate student success by providing a variety of spaces for formal and informal gathering, as well as mentoring, advising, and mental health counselling. The three former machine shop wings were repurposed as a two-hundred-seat lecture hall and two large active learning classrooms. Facing southward onto a new Walker Promenade, these flexible, media-rich spaces are available to classes from across the university. Their transparency reveals the hum of academic activity within and enlivens the pedestrian experience at the campus core.  The educational program extends outdoors to two landscaped courtyards framed by new sculptural canopies that serve as thresholds to the new Graduate Center and provide shelter from extreme weather.  

With a full seismic retrofit and new energy-efficient systems, Walker Hall illustrates the importance of adaptive reuse and deep energy retrofit to the resilience of university campus settings. New exterior details, including steel sunshades, cylindrical daylight collectors, a sculptural steel stair, and geometrically folded shade canopies, serve important functional goals and speak to the industrial history of the building. Enhanced thermal performance and high-efficiency building systems, combined with dedicated renewable energy provided by an on-campus solar farm, will result in a zero net electricity building. Starting with an original University project goal of LEED Gold certification, the project successfully deployed a variety of simple sustainable strategies to achieve LEED Platinum certification at no additional project cost. 

Enrique Sanchez, Jake Aftreth, Andrew Appleton, Elisha Cohen, Adam Franch, Abigail Hammett, Kate Lafsky, Alice Kao, Jeff Marsch, Yooju No, Charlie Stott, Christine Van Wagenen