Beyond the whirring of power tools and sprawling construction of Old Kresge, new residence halls and academic centers stand among the redwoods. These are the buildings that have sprouted out of the first phase of the Kresge Renewal project.

At the start of this academic year, UC Santa Cruz unveiled Phase I of the long awaited Kresge Renewal Project. In conjunction with Phase II, set to be completed in the fall of 2025, the project updates Kresge’s 50 year-old infrastructure and provides much needed beds. 

For those living and studying in Kresge, the construction is an all too prominent feature of their lives.

“There is still some construction going on,” said fourth-year Ihtzely Martinez. ”So the scenery gets a little bit ruined because you can’t really avoid [the construction].”

The project broke ground in the summer of 2019 and completed Phase I on Sept. 29, just in time for the new academic year. Phase 1 includes 400 beds in the new residence halls and features communal lounges and new academic buildings complete with a 600 seat classroom.  

The new buildings stand in stark contrast to old Kresge. Constructed in 1971, but open to students in 1973, Kresge College was originally designed to last 40 years before being replaced, as explained by Senior Director of College Student Life for Porter and Kresge Michael Yamaguchi-Gleason. 

“Kresge had reached [the end of] its lifespan,” Yamaguchi-Gleason said. “It was just time to replace a lot of the structures.”

Phase II of the Kresge Renewal Project will renovate offices, study centers, and student lounges. New apartments and dorms will replace old wooden-framed apartments. There will also be a new town hall. 

In the interest of maximizing space and budget, the planners opted to build more triples, leaving some students disappointed.

“We were originally hoping to just be in a double room,” said first-year Sabine Benson, who lives in the new Kresge Dorms. “Then we found out it was only singles and triples.”

Once renovation and construction for Phase II is completed, Kresge Renewal is projected to provide 990 beds total, a net increase of 625 additional beds for Kresge College. 

The project represents a significant modernization for Kresge. As explained by Director of Capital Planning and Construction Steve Houser, the buildings were built in accordance with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines. This includes a system that captures, stores, and treats rainwater to flush toilets in the Kresge bathrooms. 

“The buildings themselves are built exceeding California energy codes, which are some of the most aggressive codes in the United States, if not the most aggressive,” Houser said. “These buildings exceed those energy efficiency standards.”

As construction proceeds for Phase II, new residents continue to acclimate themselves to the Kresge dorms as they settle into their lives as college students. 

“I’m just grateful that we have [these] really, really beautiful new buildings and that we are surrounded by trees,” Benson said. “It’s a nice, little community.”