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UC San Diego Development Wins Top Design Award

ARCHITECTURE: HKS, Safdie Rabines Recognized for $534M Project

HKS architects with San Diego offices in Torrey Pines and Mission Hills-based Safdie Rabines Architects won a top award from the American Institute of Architects as part of the design team for the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood.

Also working on the project were Clark Construction, OJB Landscape Architecture and the Center for Advanced Design Research the University of San Diego California.

Completed in 2020, with a construction cost of $534 million, the 1.6 million-square-foot North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood includes eight general assignment classrooms, three residential halls, with 2,048 undergraduate student beds, two academic buildings, with faculty and administrative offices, a two-story dining hall, with six restaurants, large lecture halls, an auditorium, a craft center, and underground parking. It is the home of the Sixth College, the School of Social Sciences and the School of Arts and Humanities.

Jeff Larsen
Principal and Office Director
HKS San Diego

The institute’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) annual award celebrates projects for their design excellence and environmental performance.

“It’s the standard of design excellence in our industry,” said Jeff Larsen, principal, and office director of HKS San Diego. “We’ve been working in this direction for a long time, and it speaks to the culture and our commitment to all these factors of sustainability and research and innovation and social impact, student success – all those things come together in this.”

The Living and Learning Neighborhood was designed to achieve LEED platinum certification – the highest ranking for energy efficiency and sustainability, exceeding the university’s goal of gaining LEED silver certification. According to UC San Diego, it is the largest higher education project in California to achieve LEED platinum certification.

Ricardo Rabines
Co-founder
Safdie Rabines Architects

Ricardo Rabines, co-founder of Safdie Rabines, said that the project “was a unique opportunity to design the largest project in the history of UC San Diego – creating a living and learning neighborhood that fulfills the school’s pioneering vision for a vibrant, barrier-breaking community and exemplifies sustainable design.”

“By taking advantage of the local climate, we were able to create authentic indoor/outdoor spaces for a mix of programs within close proximity,” Rabines said.

Larsen said that the design of the Living and Learning Center was based in part on research into how to encourage students to make healthy choices in everything from what they eat to how they behave. “It uses architectural design to nudge those positive behaviors and outcomes for student success,” Larsen said. “We say nudge, because you can’t truly make it happen.”

Something as simple as “laying out circulation patterns in ways that there are chance meetings” helps students feel engaged and a part of the university, Larsen said.

What Larsen calls a “multimodal” street runs through the center of the neighborhood with bus stops and separate walkways for pedestrians, bicyclists, and scooters. The street is designed like a normal city neighborhood street, with retail shops at ground level, including a market and a café with healthy options.

There also are what Larsen described as “two large quads” in the middle of the site to encourage student gatherings. The neighborhood also is arranged so that the busier elements, such as the classroom are on one side “and then as you move west, it becomes more and more dominated by the student housing, so the residential component becomes strong and there’s this really cool transition throughout the whole mixed-use environment,” Larsen said.

Other design elements were included to help students’ psychological well-being, and early surveys showed that there has been an 8.2% reduction in self-reported depression rates among students who live in the neighborhood, Larsen said.

Part of that is reducing loneliness by including an abundance of natural light and including places where students can easily interact, like outdoor terraces on the residential buildings and open lounges, with community kitchens right off the elevators in the residential buildings.

HKS

Founded:  1939
San Diego  Office:  3366 N.  Torrey Pines
Principal/Office Director for HKS San Diego & Regional Practice Director of Education: Jeff Larsen
Employees:  1,500
Business: Architectural and design firm
Website:  www.hksinc.com
Contact: 858-429-5558
Notable:  HKS is a global firm of architects, designers and advisors with 26 locations worldwide.

Safdie Rabines Architects

Founded: 1993
Partners: Taal Safdie, Ricardo Rabines, Eric Lindebak,   Brett Milkovich
Founding partners: Taal Safdie and Ricardo Rabines
Headquarters: Mission Hills
Business:   Architecture, interior design and urban design
Employees: 45+
Website:    www.safdierabines.com
Contact:   619-297-6153
Notable: Safdie Rabines Architects designed one of the University of California San Diego’s largest and most ambitious projects – the North Torrey Pines Living & Learning Neighborhood,   LEED Platinum,   in collaboration with HKS.

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