Maximino Martinez Commons

Maximino Martinez Commons

Project by Behnisch Architekten, Los Angeles

CLIENT: University of California Berkeley

LOCATION: Berkeley, CA

SIZE: 122,000 SQ FT


PROGRAM: Student apartments, undergraduate student dorms, studentservices, student lounge, computer lab, offices

preserving a historic garden

The Maximino Martinez Commons is situated in a culturally and historically rich context with a unique set of challenges. The project serves as a catalyst for positive development in the immediate urban environment. The quality of outdoor spaces in between the new and old buildings are equally important in this development and provide diverse areas of play and rest along with the careful transition between the public, semi-public and private realms.

The historical existing trees give the project the unique ability to nestle around a mature landscape. This also helped dictate much of the design, and created an opportunity to weave each floor plate distinctly through the tree canopies thus creating interior and exterior courtyards.

The residential units float above a permeable split-level ground plane that connects common spaces through the site. These living units are both single and double story and have access to light and air from two sides creating naturally bright and well ventilated living spaces. Voids along the perimeter of the building allow for elevated terraces and gardens and break down the scale of the complex. 




our process

Working with the campus landmark commission and the campus arborists we began to trace the perimeter of the project with some key functional drivers in mind. These drivers were the historical trees on site, the historical adjacent brown shingle structures, and the circulation of spaces, from most public, to semi-public and private.

The building's various functionalities and strategic sustainability features helped focus our team on the essential ideas that evolved over the course of the design.