View of the Memorial Union from the north side (2004).

The Memorial Union is one of the main buildings on UC Davis Campus, and arguably the most publicly traveled building. Often dubbed "the MU", it contains a variety of interesting places and things. Students pay a yearly "Memorial Union Fee" of $85.50. 

Disclaimer (Memorial Union Reconstruction)

Starting March 23, 2015, the departments of Campus Recreation and Unions (CRU) and Design and Construction Management (DCM) will begin the Memorial Union Renewal. This comprehensive renovation will make the historic Memorial Union a more dynamic environment and integral on-campus destination for students and others in the UC Davis community. The project will maintain the integrity of the Memorial Union as a historic facility, reinforcing its importance to the campus. In addition, a number of critical and strategic improvements will meet the needs of a growing student population and enhance the student experience. The Memorial Union Renewal includes the following improvements:

  • The creation of a new, more dynamic entry to the northwest side of campus and to the Memorial Union itself.
  • A new two-story lobby in the north face of the Memorial Union.
  • Increased lounge/study space.
  • A new home for the UC Davis Veterans Affairs Office.
  • Expanded opportunities for UC Davis Stores and ASUCD to serve the student population and campus community, including new and updated retail spaces.
  • Improvements to the North and South Memorial Union Plazas.
  • Critical improvements in compliance with seismic codes and ADA requirements.

You can find information for the project at the Campus Recreation and Unions Website or their Facebook Page.

History

View of the Memorial Union from the east side (2010).

The Memorial Union (MU) is the main student union at the University of California, Davis and is the center, both figuratively and literally, of the UC Davis campus. It has undergone numerous changes and renovations, reflecting the tremendous growth of the campus during the past fifty years. The MU was completed in 1955 and dedicated in honor of 128 UC Davis students and alumni who lost their lives in military service (called the "Gold Star Aggies") from World War I through World War II. [Griffin Lounge houses the Golden Memory Book. This book lists all of the names of former UC Davis students who lost their lives in service.] The $1 million cost was funded by private support from the campus community, including funds raised by one of the earliest campaigns of the Cal Aggie Alumni Association. This one story facility included a dining commons, kitchen, faculty club, student lounge, Alumni Association offices, a soda fountain and a student store.

Freeborn Hall (now closed) was added to the complex in 1961, the same year that the Department of Dramatic Arts, later renamed the Department of Theatre and Dance, was established. Opening with a performance by the San Francisco Symphony, Freeborn Hall offered the first performance venue to the campus and remained the campus’ main venue for large groups and performances until the Mondavi Center opened its doors in 2002. During the 60’s and 70’s, it hosted such groups as the Grateful Dead and Simon and Garfunkel. Today, Freeborn Hall still holds large trade shows as well as some of the students’ favorite popular acts.

In 1966, with the help of another building campaign and a student fee, the campus completed the construction of a large addition to the MU. It included the second, third and fourth floors over the main building, as well as the Games Area and the main branch of the UC Davis Bookstore. The main building, known as the tower, housed additional lounge space, offices for ASUCD, and student programs. The Games Area included the first and only bowling alley built in the city of Davis, and remains a popular destination for students and community members alike. The Coffee House, a student operated eatery, opened its doors in the east wing of the building in 1968, promoting its “from scratch” menu items it is still famous for today in its newly renovated facility.

The first floor and the bookstore were remodeled and expanded in the early 90’s for $11 million. The project added 18,200 square feet in dining, lounge, recreational, and bookstore space. A new lobby and student service retail space were added to the first floor of the building. The Coffee House was relocated to the west side of the building and increased its kitchen and seating space to accommodate the needs of a growing student population.

In 1998, The MU complex underwent a major seismic renovation and took that opportunity to reconfigure space for student use. The project added stiffening elements to the south side of the MU, and removed a concrete canopy from Freeborn Hall that was considered a major earthquake hazard. A new elevator was installed to the north entry and all the rest rooms were updated to make them accessible by wheelchair. The MU Art Gallery got a major face-lift as did all of the office space in the tower. A new computer lab was added to the building in partnership with the Campus IET Department, and continues to be the most highly used computer lab on campus.

The Memorial Union complex will undergo yet another expansion/renovation project that will improve the use of our bookstore space and provide an inviting new entry to the Union. This project will provide the additional retail space and services needed by our student population, which has nearly tripled since the original UC Davis Bookstore was completed in 1966.

As the campus continues to evolve to meet the growing needs of our students, the Memorial Union has evolved this it. Through every renovation project, the Union has sought to address the social and academic needs of every UC Davis student by increasing opportunities for excellent services and programs.

(Take a Virtual Tour UCD V-tour

 

Memorial Union Renewal Project

The MU will be undergoing a massive renovation, beginning in Spring 2015. Most offices and departments will close or relocate during portions of the renovations. Lounge and study spaces will be expanded, ADA compliances and seismic codes will be met, retail spaces updated, the UC Davis Veterans Affairs Office will move in, and entry ways will be made "more dynamic."

Concept render of the new lounge spaces.Concept renderConcept render

 

Areas in the MU

The MU hosts to several commercial operations, some owned and operated by UC Davis itself, other private businesses that lease space from UC Davis via the MU Auxillary Services department (homepage: http://www-muas.ucdavis.edu/). Other space in the union is devoted to University administrative offices related to students, student government, and various meeting rooms.

The following information applies to the Memorial Union as it exists during construction. Please note that the information on this page is subject to change as the project continues. 

First Floor- CLOSED FOR RENOVATION

The Memorial Union's flags and seal are prominent on the north side (2005).

Second Floor- Partially CLOSED

Third Floor

Fourth Floor

Fifth Floor

Basement

Note: the MU Basement connects with Lower Freeborn Hall

Outdoor Meeting places

These are the default meeting places for many students, as they are more or less centrally located on campus and are well known to students by their first week at UCD.

Other points of interest

  • The Cleanest Bathrooms in the building are on the second floor, third floor, and in the basement.
  • There is a bike pump located on the west side of the Catering trailer near the bike racks. There is also a new, faster, bike pump located on the west side of the building across from Wellman Hall and Wickson Hall.
  • The Stanford Tree has been sighted here.
  • The elevators and stairs can connect you to Lower Freeborn, and vice versa.

Surveillance Cameras

On April 5, 2007, Campus Unions installed a number of surveillance cameras in the Memorial Union sending a strong message to everyone who enters the building, "You are being watched."

Photos

In front of The Corral Between the bookstore and the Info Desk North-west hallway Post Office Entrance

 

On the North West corner outside the Griffin Lounge By the telescreen Across from the CoHo grill, south of the main entrance to the Griffin Lounge South of the entrance to the CoHo grill

 

By the main south-facing entrance By the elevators On November 29, 2006, construction workers were seen removing the tiles on the first floor. The MU's "chimes". You win this round, Cal.

Former places in the MU