Palomar College Maintenance Operations Complex, San Marcos

The Maintenance and Operations Complex for Palomar Community College District is a 28,000-square-foot facility that serves the grounds and maintenance division across the entire 252-acre campus. While campus operations facilities are often relegated to secondary locations, the project is located on what was an existing surface lot at a highly visible campus gateway. BNIM used site topography and the strategic placement of the building to screen vehicular uses and to create a series of memorable indoor and outdoor spaces that are visible from pedestrian and vehicular entries to the campus.

The design of the Maintenance and Operations Complex integrates traditionally segmented shop spaces, office spaces, and warehouse space into one facility. It  provides a diverse user group an active, high-performance workplace that fully utilizes innovative passive design principles. The spatial diversity of the complex presented a unique opportunity to reallocate the costs associated with mechanical infrastructure to the building facade. A unique passive design system was utilized to embrace the Southern California climate, and a narrow building footprint provides year-round optimal temperatures throughout the building. Innovative design strategies, such as thermal chimneys and roof monitors, create increased natural ventilation, lower building energy consumption, and decrease mechanical infrastructure. Sixty-six percent of the building operates without any HVAC systems and fully utilizes passive heating and cooling strategies for the interior shop spaces. Other sustainable strategies, such as rainwater harvesting, renewable energy, and daylight harvesting, were incorporated to provide the user with a “long life, loose fit” building, which allows the Maintenance and Operations Complex to remain useful and operational well beyond the life many similar buildings.

The design challenges the typical maintenance and operations building typology by creating a positive, high-performance campus environment that centers on human-purposed design. It was designed as a zero net energy building, and designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification and to become the first Living Building Petal certified community college building in the world by generating 105% of its total energy demand to be net positive. Now complete, it will become an active demonstration of the affordability of passive sustainable design throughout the region.

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  • Project Awarded

    Orchid Nominee

  • Project Address:

    1140 W. Mission Road, San Marcos, CA 92069

    Project Owner/Developer:

    Palomar College

    Owner Contact Name/Email:

    Dennis Astl /

    Project Architect/Designer:

    bnim architects


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