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UC Berkeley built an award winning state of the art LEED gold residence hall called Martinez Commons. DCI furnished it with sustainable solid hardwood and custom designed bedroom and common room furniture.

UC Berkeley is one of the most storied and prestigious universities in America. Founded in 1868 as the flagship school in the UC System, it consistently ranks among top-ten universities in the world and frequently earns the number one spot for public universities in the United States.

Berkeley is home to 41,910 students—30,574 Undergraduates and 11,336 Postgraduates—who participate in 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs with an impressive 17.8 to 1 faculty to student ratio.

Martinez Commons

In 2013, Cal opened a new state of the art residence hall in downtown Berkeley. Located across from historic People’s Park and erected on one of the last developable piece of school real estate, this residence hall features a dizzying array of sustainability credentials. It was and is a model of green building practices.

This made DCI an ideal partner on the project, and we furnished the residence hall with sustainably manufactured solid wood furniture.

Before we outline the custom green solution we developed for Martinez Commons, let’s review some of the impressive green attributes of this building.

A Model For Green Buildings

First, Martinez Commons employs a number of energy saving features. It mitigates 8 percent of its energy use by generating its own renewable energy through a roof-mounted solar hot water heating array— 80 flat panel solar hot water collectors with 500-gallon storage.

And to offset the cost of that system, the school participated in an innovative 20-year power purchase agreement with a solar power company, Sun Light & Power.

Martinez Commons also reduces energy use by nearly 45 percent through natural ventilation, the use of daylight instead of electric light, and super efficient and appropriately-sized heating equipment.

And in line with Cal’s educational mission, students, staff, and faculty can all monitor the energy use of the building on a website and in the building lobby.

The Solution

Naturally, we were honored to work on a project of this calibre. UC Berkeley initially contacted us to provide them with a full bedroom set that featured a clean modern design.

And because this was such a high profile project with exceptional standards, the UC team gave a lot of thought and consideration to every detail.

In the end, we customized all the furniture to reflect the values and design of the building. And it’s important to note that these units were specifically designed as a departure from standard dormitory “style” to inspire a more sophisticated apartment esthetic.

Here’s what that meant.

First, we crafted most of the furniture with sustainable FSC-controlled—eastern grown maple. Nearly all of it was made from solid hardwood. The bedroom set included a bed, three storage pieces, a desk, and a mobile pedestal.

Modern Non-bunking Beds

For the bedroom, we custom designed a non-bunkable platform bed which features exposed plywood edges with very clean lines and a maple veneer.

Choosing non-bunking beds was important to preserve the integrity of the space and honor the intention to make it feel like an apartment instead of a dorm room.

Custom Storage Trio

We also customized an underbed drawer and paired it with a separate bookcase that students can either place on its side or fit under the bed next to the drawer.

The third piece in this storage trio was a modern three-drawer chest floating on elevated metal feet.

Desk & Pedestal

Using a mix of metal and wood, we designed an ergonomic desk that was shorter than standard desks in order to accommodate the use of laptops.

To reduce bulk under the desk, we crafted extra wide mobile pedestals. We also added an extra six inches to the width of the desk to make more space for the pedestals.

Blending function, extreme durability and style, the pedestals feature industrial grade casters.

Common Room Furniture

At a certain point in our creative process, the Cal Team asked us to submit options for the common area seating and tables.

They had an existing inspiration for their designs, so we built on that and developed our own version. We built L- shaped couches with coffee and end tables.

The upholstered sectional couches and lounge chairs featured rolled maple arms made from bent plywood.

We designed them with exposed plywood to maintain the overall theme and dovetail with the bedroom design.

The general idea was this. Let’s not cover up what this is…let’s expose it. Why? Because wood is beautiful.

View Case Study (PDF)

Project Location: Berkeley, CA

Project Size: 416 Beds, Single & Double Story Units

Building Type: Undergrad Housing

Project Team: UC Berkeley, Behnisch Architekten, EHDD Architecture, DCI

Product List: Bed, Desk, Rolling Pedestal, Underbed Drawer, Bookcase, 3-Drawer Dresser, Sectional Couch, Lounge Chairs, Side and Coffee Tables

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