On June 5, 2013, ULI toured the Maximo Martinez Commons in Berkeley. Developed by UC Berkeley, the property serves as off-campus student housing for 416 undergraduate students. The project manager for the construction project, Valerie Zylla of UC Berkeley Capital Projects, led the tour.
The tour’s primary focus was to highlight the various innovative design elements that prompted the California Higher Education Energy Efficiency Partnership to award the property “Best Sustainable Design” project. These design elements were found throughout the property, from the site design of the overall building to the smallest construction detail.
The building was clearly designed with keen attention to its surroundings and existing conditions. The University made a massive effort to protect heritage trees, literally wrapping the building around a century-old tree and architecturally showcasing other significant trees on the site perimeter. The building also compliments the scale of the adjacent historic Anna Head structures and embraces People’s Park rather than shunning it.
The interior is even more impressive, with a multilevel lobby featuring industrial and contemporary finishes of exposed concrete and a heavy use of glass. The exposed concrete is found throughout and the prevalent glass enables jaw-dropping views of the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge to the west as well as the Berkeley Hills to the east.
The most impressing takeaway, however, is the comfortable living environment the University has created for its students. Students can take advantage of a wide range of common spaces, from the outdoor, landscaped courtyard, to the countless conference rooms and lounges sprinkled throughout the building, to the highly used, high-end fitness center on the building’s ground floor. The most overhead comment: “I certainly didn’t live like this when I was in college!”
Authored by Will Hu, The Prado Group