C.R.E.A.M. envisioned its new San Diego City Hall as a hub for local governance that would also serve act as the area’s Emergency Operation Center. They also saw an opportunity to take the design a step beyond the expected.
“We exceeded the competition requirements by producing a net-positive energy building,” said Kristy Kwong from the Los Angeles office, who worked on environmental analysis and resiliency. “This meant that this building design would produce more energy annually then it would consume.”
To meet this goal, they used passive design elements to reduce cooling and heating loads. The building was shaped so that it would self-shade, while keeping the floor plates narrow to allow ample daylight and natural ventilation.
Once the loads had been reduced, the model met its efficiency goals through a modular heating-ventilation-air conditioning (HVAC) system. Finally, the project was topped by a photovoltaic (PV) array spanning the central courtyard that also acted as a shading trellis for the building and outdoor spaces.
“The PV array would provide enough power for net-positive energy during normal operation, while enabling the building to serve the community during natural disasters,” said Jason Lackie, a building performance specialist in the Tempe, Arizona office and the WSP team captain. “In addition to being an exemplar of resiliency, the design provides abundant planted outdoor spaces on all floors to increase the occupants’ connection to nature, thereby improving health and wellness.”
The use of mass timber and cross-laminated timber construction provided additional natural elements while reducing embedded carbon.
“Wood has much less embodied carbon than steel and concrete, and we wanted to reduce all carbon associated with our design, not just operational carbon,” said Mohammad Abbasi from the Chicago office, who lead the team’s efforts on incorporating occupant comfort and wellness into the project. “Also, wood elements have a natural warmth to them, and we wanted to incorporate as much biophilic elements as possible.”