UC Merced Vernal Pools & Grassland Reserve Masterplan

A 2,400 SF research and science pavilion located adjacent to the Merced Vernal Pools and Grassland Reserve (MVPGR). The pavilion will provide critical support for research and understanding of the regional ecology. The project includes a masterplan to transform the 10-acre site surrounding the pavilion into a gateway for the 6,500-acre MVPGR. 


University of California, Merced


Merced, CA


2,400 SF


Targeting Net Zero Energy

Image Credit

LMSA and SCAPE for renderings


The project supports UC Nature Reserve System’s mission to “contribute to the understanding and wise stewardship of the Earth and its natural systems by supporting university-level teaching, research, and public service at protected natural areas throughout California”. The project is 100% electric and will be completely off-grid, incorporating PV’s, a wind turbine, and battery storage to meet the project’s energy demand. Filled from an existing onsite well, an 8,000 gallon water storage tank provides domestic water and fire water for the project. Composting toilets, coupled with a grey water and black water systems, complete the water cycle, discharging water back into the soil. 

The project program is informed by broad involvement from diverse stakeholders. Inherently designed to be flexible, the project anticipates that specific uses may change over time. The entire 10-acre site is dedicated as a learning opportunity. Subdivided into different areas and features to take full advantage of the site, meandering paths connect learning areas and an outpost at the far end of the site. The flexible pavilion is intended to accomodate a variety of assembly by various populations, providing welcome and shelter to all who visit. It features open space, educational exhibit opportunities and shade from the sun or rain overhead, as well as wind via movable screens.