The California State University San Marcos University Student Union (USU) is a four-story, 89,000-square-foot design-build project and a landmark on campus. Acting as the campus "living room," the indoor-outdoor configuration encourages student engagement. The USU surrounds a 400-seat outdoor amphitheater that connects to student lounges, study spaces, retail, several cafes and exhibit areas. An exterior dining patio and a rooftop terrace provide a space for students to relax and enjoy scenic views.

The structure consists of a spread footing, and cast-in-place retaining walls with a structural steel frame built into the campus hillside. The skin of the building is a panelized ceramic tile in a travertine pattern with composite metal panels, GFRC cornice assembly at the parapet, and curtain walls. The project is LEED Gold Certified with a 100 Kw photovoltaic renewable energy system located on the roof. The building includes three passenger elevators and one service elevator, with a cast-in-place utility tunnel that carries hot water, chilled water, domestic water, and firewater utilities to support the building.

The university requested that PCL exceed Title 24 (Building Energy Efficient Standards) set by the California Energy Commission by 26%. The challenge was not only exceeding Title 24’s standards but going through the process of analyzing the university’s program to see where the team could increase energy efficiency within the building. The solution was upgrading specific items such as the glass, increasing the thickness of the insulation, and installing sensory light switches. By implementing these solutions, the project team exceeded initial sustainability goals, driving exceptional value to the client’s bottom line in energy savings. 

Constructed by