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October 26, 2017
Reception & Ceremony
The US Grant
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Interior Design

Galbraith Hall Interior Renovation – UCSD

The jury enjoyed Galbraith Hall’s fresh, bright, cheerful space and appreciated that the building was repurposed in such a sensitive and thoughtful way. The auditorium is particularly brilliant, clad and lit in such a way as to create a clean, white space; the designers in effect turned an auditorium into a piece of sculpted architecture. The designers also responded directly to the students’ needs by including both quiet and active learning spaces into the program. The jury loved the incorporation of art with the giant blades of steel and the graphics on the first floor, which cleverly tell the story of the history of the building, bridging the gap between the old structure and the new design. The jury applauds the designer for taking an incredibly tired building and making it relevant and engaging and also UCSD, for seeing what the students needed and then allowing a design that was progressive and highly functional.

The Galbraith Hall Interior Renovation project adaptively repurposes 30,000 sf of existing space within the campus’ original library formerly known as CLICS (Center for Library and Instructional Computing Services). Designed by Deems Lewis Martin Architects and constructed in 1965, the building is named after former UC San Diego Chancellor John S. Galbraith. The mixed-use program houses a new 417 seat lecture hall, two enclosed student study spaces, three practice studios for the department of Theatre & Dance, shared conference rooms, and academic office space.

The design team respected the original design and its mid-century modern spirit, while creating something original. This was achieved by removing layers of dated remodel work to expose the beautiful mid-century concrete waffle slab and structure. Next the new lecture hall was then inserted into the large interior volume of the former reading room. The white auditorium walls are clad in a geometric pattern that is a modern riff on the shadow block from mid century era, carefully sculpted in all three dimensions so that every interior space on both floors, even the restrooms, receive the extraordinarily abundant natural day lighting that pours in from the clerestory windows and skylights above.

From a constructability perspective this renovation was anything but straight forward. Not only were the floors below the project area fully occupied during the entire construction process, but the general contractor and the design team had to figure out how to construct a completely new building inside the shell of the existing one with all the materials, supplies, and equipment having to fit through the “front doors.”

Where your eyes go, so goes the rest of you! With this in mind the material palette, textures, lighting, and splashes of color are strategically placed to draw users through the building. Visible from the entry, and nearly everywhere else inside, the tall abstracted stainless blades of grass anchor the central atrium creating a point of reference to help users intuitively navigate the space.

This re-energized interior is bright, airy, dynamic, and comfortable, meant to feel more like a living room than a laboratory. The design team respected the original design and its mid-century modern spirit, while creating something original; a terrific place for students, faculty, and staff to engage, discuss, practice, and learn.

(*This project achieved a US Green Building Council LEED Gold Rating, so not only does she look great, but she performs very well as well.)

  • Project Awarded

    Orchid Nominee

  • Project Address:

    9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92093

    Project Owner/Developer:

    University of California, San Diego

    Owner Contact Name/Email:

    Joel King AIA Facilities Design & Construction / wjking@ucsd.edu

    Project Architect/Designer:

    Kevin deFreitas Architects / Kevin deFreitas & Manish Desai (info@defreitasarchitects.com)


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P.O. Box 122228
San Diego, CA 92112-2228
Federal Tax ID: 95-3513927

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Orchids & Onions is an educational and fundraising program of the San Diego Architectural Foundation, a 501(c)3, nonprofit organization dedicated to education and the promotion of outstanding architecture, planning and urban design throughout the San Diego region.

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