Kresge College renewal to nearly triple amount of student housing

Kresge College, which originally provided housing for 368 students, will now, through a mix of new construction and renovation, provide beds for 990 students

Renderings of a new residence hall at Kresge College
A rendering of the renovated Kresge buildings and new residential hall beyond.
A rendering of the pedestrian bridge that leads to the new Kresge Academic Center on the right and new residential hall with café beyond.

UC Santa Cruz will nearly triple the number of students living at Kresge College and develop new lower-cost housing rates for hundreds of students from disadvantaged backgrounds following approval by the UC Board of Regents of revised plans for the college’s comprehensive renewal.

With a mix of new construction and renovation, UC Santa Cruz is building more housing, constructing new classroom space, and ultimately strengthening the student experience.

California lawmakers awarded $89 million to UC Santa Cruz in the 2022-23 state budget, which enabled the campus to move forward with plans that would provide housing for nearly 990 undergraduates at Kresge, which is over 600 more beds than what the residential college originally held. Beginning in fall 2025, UC Santa Cruz will be able to offer lower cost housing rates to 320 students. Regents unanimously approved the new plans.

“We are steadfast in our commitment to student success, and housing is a critical component in providing access to a UC Santa Cruz education,” Chancellor Cynthia Larive said. “I am so grateful to our state leaders for investing in our housing efforts. It will make a real difference in the lives of our students for decades to come.”

UC Regents first approved the renewal project in March 2019 and construction began later that year. The first phase, which includes new residential halls and a 35,000-square-foot academic center and plaza, is set to be finished in summer 2023. 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 new residential halls 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 student community rooms on the ground floor.

In the second phase of the project, the iconic Kresge architecture will be reconstructed and renovated to retain the college’s historic design, only with more durable and resilient materials. UC Santa Cruz will renovate and add a third floor to seven of the 12 existing buildings for housing and construct a new housing building at the south end of the college. Most of the residential space in Phase 2 is designed as apartments and smaller residence hall rooms, with primarily double and triple occupancy and some singles.

The entire project including the second phase of construction that will begin in summer 2023 is expected to be finished in fall 2025.

Supporting students from low-income backgrounds

The $89 million in state funding is enabling UC Santa Cruz to build more much-needed housing and to also implement new lower-cost housing rates for undergraduate students.

Beginning in fall 2025, UC Santa Cruz will be able to offer 320 undergraduates rental rates that are about 20 percent below the average campus housing rate. The program will span all 10 residential colleges and will help UC Santa Cruz retain students and support them in achieving their educational goals.

With the goal of supporting educational equity, advancing diversity, and cultivating a sense of belonging, UC Santa Cruz will prioritize access to these units for Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) students including foster youth/former foster youth, current military/veterans, undocumented students (not qualifying for federal aid), first-generation students, low-income or low-socioeconomic-background students, those who experienced homelessness before UCSC, those formerly incarcerated or system-impacted, and others.

Plans to build more student housing

In the decade ahead, UC Santa Cruz plans to move forward on a bold plan that will continue to increase the amount of housing for current and future students. Campus leaders are implementing a multi-year housing plan that includes parallel planning pathways. This will allow UCSC to more quickly move on to another project if one is delayed and to regularly deliver beds to meet campus housing goals.

These plans build on the campus’s longstanding commitment to provide 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, UC Santa Cruz 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.