Strada Investment Group, Samuel Merritt University, Make Progress on 225,000 SQFT Expansion in Oakland

Strada, Samuel Merritt University, EBALDC, Oakland, Perkins & Will
Courtesy of Perkins & Will

By Meghan Hall

Samuel Merritt University, a private college focused on health sciences, is gearing up for expansion. With the help of Strada Investment Group and EBALDC, the institution is working to build a 225,000 square foot urban infill project at the heart of Oakland. The project, which recently underwent design review, will transform an underutilized property and give the university space to grow.

“525 12th is an exciting partnership between Strada and Samuel Merritt University to build a new state-of-the-art campus for SMU in City Center,” said William Goodman of Strada Investment Group. “SMU has served the Oakland community as a leading non-profit health sciences institution for over 100 years, and this project will solidify their presence for the next generation.”

Located at 525 12th Street, the 0.86-acre lot is currently vacant but occupies a prime location within Oakland’s city center. The project will rise 167 feet in height and features a mix of traditional classrooms, laboratories, workspaces and collaboration rooms spread throughout its square footage. Plans also show that 1,900 square feet will be reserved for a cafe and lounge space that will be accessible to the public. Other amenities include multiple terraces and a campus store. The top two floors of the project will include a library and a makerspace. Administration will be situated on the highest floor of the building. 

Adjacent to the project, a 2,671 square foot space would operate as a public plaza, complete with hardscaping material and public art.

“The proposed use would help activate the City Center location, with students and faculty supporting neighborhood retail, services, and public spaces,” project documents explain.

Designs by architecture firm Perkins & Will show that the project’s look and feel will be driven by “moments of gravity” and “collaboration on display.” The modern building’s facade will be defined by a curtain wall for transparency, while the massing of the project will be broken down through a mix of terraces. Secondary massing elements, such as wood composite panels, cast-in-place concrete and metals, will also be used.

The project is still under review, and according to the City of Oakland, has not yet undergone its environmental review. 

“The building architecture by Perkins + Will is dynamic, and the project features public space improvements designed by Oakland-based Einwiller Kuehl,” said Goodman. “The City of Oakland has also been a wonderful partner in helping to move this important project forward as quickly as possible.  We expect to present it to the Planning Commission in early July and begin construction next summer.”

Samuel Merritt University was originally founded in 1909 and is currently located at 3100 Telegraph Ave. An affiliate of the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center and Sutter Health Network, the institution offers bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in health sciences. During the fall 2020 semester, the college had 2,050 students enrolled in its programs, and according to a fact sheet that number is up from 1,422 ten years ago.

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