Verano 8 Graduate Student Housing Opens at UC Irvine

Date Posted: 08.17.2022

Press Release

Irvine, Calif – Mithun announces the completion of Verano 8 Graduate Student Housing at University of California, Irvine (UCI). Verano 8 is a $221 million mixed-use residential community on 7.2 acres with five residential towers that will house 1,055 graduate students, a neighborhood-serving community center, replacement facility for maintenance and operations, and 853-stall parking garage.

The project utilized design-build project delivery by Mithun and Hensel Phelps, and is on track to achieve LEED Platinum and Fitwel certifications. Phased completion enabled early operation of the maintenance facility and garage, and student residents began moving into three of the residential towers during July.

UCI and the design-build team will celebrate the grand opening of Verano 8 on August 18 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, tours of the project and community activities.

“Verano 8 is an exceptional example of the future of graduate student and family housing. UCI is proud of the project and Mithun’s thoughtful and beautiful design will greatly enhance the lives and experience of our students and their families,” said Brian Pratt, UCI associate vice chancellor and campus architect.

With this expanded housing capacity, UCI is able to offer the most comprehensive graduate housing guarantee in the UC system.

Bill LaPatra, partner at Mithun, said “From design strategies that center student well-being to the diverse menu of social and amenity spaces that cultivate a sense of community, Verano 8 is at the forefront of graduate student housing design. We are thrilled to build upon our years of work with the University designing vibrant student life centers for both undergraduates and graduates, and positively contribute to the success of students at UC Irvine.”


Set within the existing Verano neighborhood of low-rise residences, the design introduces five higher-density residential buildings totaling 469,900 sf surrounding a community center that will serve as a front door to Verano 8 and an active living room for the entire neighborhood. The new, taller buildings fan out on the site, defining a series of outdoor rooms and gardens, and step down in height towards the east to minimize solar and privacy impacts on UCI’s adjacent childcare facilities.

The 15,971 sf Community Building includes shared lounge spaces, a game room, music practice rooms, study suites, large multipurpose room for events and lectures, wellness/yoga room and reservable lounge for community gatherings. Extensive transparency strengthens indoor-outdoor connections and creates a welcoming experience.


The community is designed to address key priorities for UCI’s graduate students: affordability, community, inclusive design, sustainability and privacy. With more than a thousand student beds, Verano 8 increases access to affordable housing for students, relieving housing insecurity that many students face in Orange County. Durable, long-lasting materials and energy efficient design measures reduce the university’s costs and translate into the ability to offer low rents for students.

Graduate students value quiet and privacy in their individual homes, as well as opportunities to gather with friends and colleagues within lively community spaces. UCI reports that 60% of graduate students experience loneliness and anxiety, so the design features thoughtful attention to the design of social spaces and decompression zones.

Verano 8 provides a gradated level of privacy as one circulates through the campus: celebrating activity at the bustling “front porch,” a journey of decompression through landscaped outdoor rooms, into main shared interior building spaces, floor neighborhoods and individual apartment units. Shared two- and four-bedroom units are similarly designed to balance privacy and community with clear living/dining areas and private zones for sleeping, studying and personal care.

Student health is also a critical component of the design. The project is on target to achieve three-star Fitwel certification, an evidence-based standard for optimizing holistic health benefits at the neighborhood scale. Design strategies that support resident wellness include active stairs, views to nature, mold resistant materials and community gardens.

“The design-build process enabled our team to deliver the Verano 8 community with incredible speed, maneuvering through COVID-19 with a shared focus on adding value through high-performance building systems and features that enhance the health and well-being of graduate students,” said Lynn McBride, Mithun partner and project manager for Verano 8.


Memorable landscapes throughout the Verano 8 community are distinguishing strengths of the design. Environments range from the highly activated Communal Plaza at the site’s front porch, to intimately scaled outdoor rooms between buildings that create visual interest and opportunities for respite. Along these paths, shade structures provide an oasis for small gatherings and quiet study, ensuring comfort during warmer summer months.

Large community lawns create an inclusive vibe, inviting residents to engage in active games, study or simply linger among friends and neighbors. Outdoor amenities include ample bike facilities, shared barbeque areas, half-court basketball, native and drought tolerant plant palette and robust stormwater infrastructure. Community gardens provide a place for students to grow food and cultivate relationships.

This design-build collaboration between Hensel Phelps and Mithun builds on the team’s prior success at UCI with the completion of Middle Earth Towers and Mesa Court Towers, two freshman student housing projects on campus. Having designed more than 6,100 beds of student housing through a design-build partnership, the Hensel Phelps and Mithun team has accrued an invaluable body of knowledge through a tested and successful track record of collaboration that benefits the project, the university and students. Additional design-build collaborations include Mesa Nueva, Nuevo West and Nuevo East graduate student housing for the University of California, San Diego.

The Verano 8 project team includes Hensel Phelps, design-build team lead; Mithun, architecture, landscape architecture and interior design; Thornton Tomasetti, structural engineer; Langan, civil engineer and geotechnical consultant; Glumac, mechanical/plumbing engineer; Michael Wall Engineering, electrical engineer; SLS Fire Inc., fire protection; Atlas Mechanical, design-build mechanical HVAC; Helix Electrical, design-build electrical; and HPS Mechanical, design-build plumbing.

About Mithun
Mithun is an integrated design firm dedicated to creating positive change in people’s lives. The firm’s team of architects, landscape architects, interior designers, urban designers and planners work in a wide range of typologies and scales—with a focus on urban environments and places where people live, work, and learn. The firm has been recognized with seven prestigious Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten awards from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and is ranked among the top design firms in the nation. Mithun is a national leader in programming and design of student housing and dining centers, with a portfolio that totals more than 22,000 beds nationally.

About Hensel Phelps
Hensel Phelps is recognized as one of the premier general contracting firms in the United States since 1937, specializing in planning, building and managing facilities in every building sector, including health care, aviation, higher education, federal and justice. Their people are committed to delivering the highest quality solutions and creating the most innovative and efficient facilities for our clients, from conception through construction, operations and asset management. As one of Southern California’s largest construction employers, the firm has been an engaged community partner in the Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego markets for over 30 years.

About the University of California, Irvine (UCI)
Founded in 1965, UCI is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced five Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 224 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UCI, visit