Middle Earth Housing Expansion

About the Project

The $102 million, 214,000 SF, Middle Earth Housing Expansion project (Middle Earth Towers) is an expansion of the existing Middle Earth Student Housing undergraduate complex on the University of California, Irvine (UCI) campus. Middle Earth Towers housing and student-life center provide 510 students with high-quality accommodations along with dining, learning, and amenity spaces along with the central campus Ring Road. The new facility leverages critical university real estate at the academic core of campus with the introduction of higher density housing and vibrant student amenities at the existing Middle Earth housing community, which was designed in the 1960s and named in tribute to Tolkien’s enduring stories. The vertical design expands the University’s capacity to accommodate increasing enrollment and demand for on-campus housing, as mandated by the University of California Office of the President.


The project features two residential towers that rise above a mixed-use podium and richly landscaped base, echoing the natural form and color of the region’s limestone canyons. In the towers, communities of student suites are connected on each level by a “Link Lounge” social amenity space complete with group kitchens, media viewing, and laundry facilities. Below, the two-story podium includes a 750-seat dining facility serving the entire campus population with 10,000 meals daily, amenity space for student interaction, multi-purpose classrooms, and new headquarters for the University’s housing administration. The landscape rises up and over the first floor to create a central terrace and landform that draws residents of the Middle Earth neighborhood to and through this student life center at the gateway to the academic core of campus. Construction began on the Middle Earth Towers in June 2017 and received substantial completion in July 2019.


Design-build project delivery in collaboration with design partner, Mithun.

Quick Facts

  • Location Irvine, CA
  • Client The University of California, Irvine (UCI)
  • Industry Education
  • Line of Business Construction
  • Completion Date August 2019
  • Duration 27 Months
  • Contract Value $ 102,013,956
  • Sustainability Platinum
  • Square Footage 214,000 SF
  • Other Features Hensel Phelps self-performed the structural concrete place and finish, concrete formwork, architectural cast in place concrete, and site concrete flatwork.

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