California budget supports UCSC in building additional housing for hundreds of students

The campus anticipates an additional 600 students will be able to live on campus when the Kresge College renewal project is completed in 2025

New residence halls under construction
The first phase of the Kresge College renewal includes new residential halls and a new 35,000-square-foot academic center and plaza, set to be finished during the 2022-23 academic year.

California lawmakers have awarded $89 million to UC Santa Cruz in the 2022-23 state budget, funding that will help to significantly increase student housing at Kresge College. 

The residential college is undergoing a comprehensive renewal. When the expansive project is completed, it will include housing for approximately 970 undergraduates, about 600 more beds than what the college originally held. Plans for the second phase of the Kresge construction project will be considered by the UC Board of Regents later this year. 

"This is wonderful news for our students and for our efforts to boost our stock of on-campus student housing,” Chancellor Cynthia Larive said. “I am grateful for the state investment. Student housing is such a critical need for our campus, and this project helps us advance our efforts to house more students on campus while supporting their educational success.”

UC Regents approved the renewal project in March 2019 and construction began later that year. The first phase, which includes new residential halls and a new 35,000-square-foot academic center and plaza, is set to be finished during the 2022-23 academic year. The Kresge Academic Center will have classrooms serving the entire campus and will include a 600-seat lecture hall, the largest on campus; a 150-seat lecture hall; 50- and 35-seat classrooms; a 48-seat computing lab, as well as departmental space.

The iconic Kresge architecture will be reconstructed and renovated to retain the historic design, but with more durable and resilient materials.

Other features include a new cafe, which will be built close to the front of the Academic Plaza, and a pedestrian trail that will weave in and out of the cluster of three new residential halls, providing connections throughout the college.

The entire project, including the second phase of construction that will begin at the south end of Kresge this fall, is expected to be finished in 2025.

When first approved, the Kresge Renewal project included about 550 beds, counting both new construction and existing residential buildings. Given the critical need for additional student housing, project planners revised the design to nearly double that amount, increasing it to approximately 980, said Jolie Kerns, UC Santa Cruz’s Director of Physical and Environmental Planning. This results in a net of 615 new beds.

Aside from maximizing the capacity of existing apartments, the Kresge project replaces older buildings that provided 365 beds with three new residence halls providing 400 beds intended for first-year students.

The campus is planning to increase the number of beds by adding a third floor to a number of existing buildings, including one that was originally slated to be removed.

In the decade ahead, UC Santa Cruz plans to move forward on a bold and ambitious path that will continue to increase the amount of housing for current and future students. In addition to the Kresge College renewal, another approved project, Student Housing West, is in the midst of overcoming legal challenges. Student Housing West will enable UC Santa Cruz to offer much more housing to its graduate students and upper-division undergraduates by building new housing units with space for around 3,000 students. The project, spread across two sites, will also allow the campus to expand child-care services to serve the children of faculty, staff, and students.

Campus leaders are working to develop a multi-year housing plan with a project ladder that has projects in the planning, design or construction stage at all times. This will allow UCSC to move on to another project if one is delayed and regularly deliver beds to meet its goals.

These bold future plans will build on the campus’s longstanding commitment to providing an on-campus residential experience for students. The campus currently provides housing for more than half of its undergraduates. While this is one of the highest percentages in the UC system, UCSC leaders say it is not high enough. Campus efforts to build more on-campus housing continue in earnest.

Over the past two decades, the campus has increased its student housing capacity by 3,300 beds through structural modifications, such as adding floors, major building redesigns and by increasing the density in residence halls.