San Diego County Operations Center
- Project Address: 5560 Overland Avenue, San Diego, CA 92123
- Project Owner/ Developer: County of San Diego
- Owner Contact Name/ Email: Jeff Redlitz / Jeff.Redlitz@sdcounty.ca.gov
- Project Architect/ Designer: RJC Architects
The Operations Center deserves an Orchid in multiple categories: architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, sustainable design, and miscellaneous (for its public art and its prudent investment of public money in capital facilities that will provide enduring value).
Despite the challenge of constructing a new workplace and service center for a daily population of 2,800 without disrupting the ongoing use of the buildings to be replaced, no employee was relocated more than once. The site plan and separates vehicular and pedestrian movement and organizes the new facilities around a simple, comprehensible pedestrian spine. The entire campus is beautifully landscaped with drought tolerant plantings.
A highly efficient new central plant provides energy savings that are supplemented by a 360,000 Kw AC solar electric system, solar hot water systems, green roofs, extensive daylighting and highly sophisticated control systems to produce extraordinary energy savings. The entire campus will receive LEED Gold Certification, and the Campus Center will receive LEED Platinum certification. The first phase has already been named as the Outstanding Project of 2011 by the California Center for Sustainable Energy and the Energy Champion of 2011 by SDG&E.
Each office building features a two-story entrance lobby that is the focus of public waiting areas and the setting for newly commissioned public art. Private interior offices are located at the building cores, and the highly efficient open office landscapes result in interior work areas flooded with natural light and provided with distant views for all to enjoy.
The Campus Center, building entries, and elevator lobbies feature a new world-class public art collection that includes the first American commission for Zadok Ben-David and the first San Diego commission for Ball Nogues Studio and John Rogers. The heart of the new collection, though, features many of San Diego's most important local artists, including Chris Puzio, Italo Scanga, Manny Farber, Joyce Cutler Shaw, Marie Najera, Ann Mudge, and Gail Roberts. The Operations Center is unique in San Diego: it is the one and only public campus presenting the best work by many of our best local artists, displayed and documented in a professional manner. Each elevator lobby features collages created by Jay Johnson, who worked with historian David Richardson to create an archive of artifacts that describe the work done by each of the resident departments. Among the hundreds of artifacts discovered (or rescued from oblivion): a land grant signed by Abraham Lincoln, the first logo for the County of San Diego (a cattle brand) and stained glass windows that originally adorned a 19th Century courthouse. The public art is completely integrated with the interior space plan and the building users' daily experience.
None of this would mean anything, however, if the new campus wasn't a great place to transact business - and it is. The campus establishes a new setting for public service that lets County staff and customers feel valued and respected.
Finally, in an age of limits, the taxpayers were respected too. The project was completed ahead of schedule and $20 Million below budget, and was paid for almost entirely in cash. Additionally, the project allowed for the sale of a decrepit old tilt-slab warehouse building on 22 acres at the corner of Claremont Mesa and Ruffin Road. This underutilized asset will now become a new state-of--the-art hospital. The final sales price of this underutilized and unsightly parcel will be determined by the development entitlements ultimately secured by the buyer, but it will be in the range of $60 Million.
In short, the new County Operations Center is a spectacular success. It establishes a new standard for the design of public facilities in San Diego, and it is already being hailed as one of the finest public-private partnerships in the nation.