UC San Diego?s Calit2 Building Wins Best Overall Project in Southern California

Building Projects Judged on Architecture, Engineering and Construction

San Diego and Long Beach, CA, December 8, 2006 -- For the second time in less than a month, the sleek headquarters of a high-tech institute at the University of California, San Diego has taken top honors in a competition that singles out the best architecture or construction project of the past year.

Calit2 Award
Three awards for the Calit2 building at the "Best of Awards 2006" for Southern California.
In the Best of 2006 Awards organized by McGraw-Hill Construction, UC San Diego's Calit2 building took home the award for Best Overall Project in Southern California. "It's an amazing project," said one of the 11 judges, all professionals drawn from the ranks of architecture, engineering, contractors, associations and developers.

Winners from around the region gathered in Long Beach Dec. 7, one day after a similar gathering in San Francisco to honor the best projects in Northern California.

Calit2's 215,000-square-foot structure -- now called Richard C. Atkinson Hall after the former UC President and UCSD Chancellor -- is the only project in all of California to be selected for three "Best of" awards in 2006. The building also won for Outstanding Architectural Design, and best Higher Education project.

The three awards were announced just three weeks after the Calit2 building was selected for the most prestigious architecture award in San Diego, the Grand Orchid. The San Diego Architectural Foundation bestowed its top award at an event in San Diego on November 17, citing Atkinson Hall as "clearly a work of architecture that was meant to lead rather than follow."

In yesterday's McGraw-Hill announcement, UCSD was also a winner in the Health Care category, for the UCSD Medical Center's Hillcrest Hospital Renovation and Systems Upgrade.

Construction Awardees
Accepting awards for the Calit2 project (l-r): Calit2's Rao; Gilbane's Farnham; NBBJ's Powell; and Calit2 facilities manager Beach.
Representatives on hand to receive the Atkinson Hall awards included Ramesh Rao, director of the UCSD division of Calit2; Fred Powell, senior associate in the San Diego office of architectural firm NBBJ; and Jennifer Farnham, a project executive at Gilbane Builders, the general contractor on the Calit2 project. Also attending on behalf of Calit2: facilities manager Tim Beach.

"It is especially gratifying to hear from seasoned professionals that this building represents a new way of thinking about architecture, construction and engineering," said Rao after the event. "We consider the structure itself to be a physical manifestation of our mandate to collaborate and innovate across disciplines, and these awards make that mandate all the more tangible." 

The Best of 2006 Awards celebrate and honor the building teams that created the best California projects of the year, as selected by a jury of prominent, local industry professionals. For 2006, the judges selected 27 projects as the best in California during the past year. Of the 14 in Southern California (including an honorable mention for UC Irvine's new Natural Sciences building), fully eight were projects in San Diego, including the renovation of the U.S. Grant Hotel, Caltrans District 11 Headquarters, and Qualcomm's new WT building -- winner in the "green" category for its energy-efficient design.

The jury cited the building's designers and builders for overcoming "unique challenges when developing this facility," including through the use of a new composite material called Trespa on the exterior of the building, because it minimizes blocking of electromagnetic waves. As one jury member put it, "it's an unbelievably innovative building program."

The December issue of California Construction includes a profile of the Calit2 building at UCSD.
"The design was created to encourage collaboration between researchers," reports a cover story in the December issue of McGraw-Hill's California Construction magazine, adding: "The curvilinear form provides enough room for the flexible open plan collaboration spaces. One of the main goals of the facility is to enable collaborative solutions to large-scale societal issues."

According to the publication, technology also influenced the Calit2 building's interior design. "The building's infrastructure is designed to accommodate nearly 2 million ft. of Ethernet cable and 150 optical fibers linking the building with UCSD campus networks," reports the magazine. "Designers also opted not to cover up information infrastructure with drop ceilings or steam and water pipes. Leaving such spaces open allows for easier access to Ethernet trays, which is part of the building's purpose."

The award in the Higher Education category was the second in a row for Calit2. The institute's building at UC Irvine, which opened in March 2005, was the winner in the same category last year. Johnson Fain was the design architect, Leo A Daly the design/build architect, PCL Construction Services the general contractor, and Nabih Youssef & Associates the structural engineering team on the UC Irvine Calit2 building.

Related Links
California Construction: Best of 2006 Issue
Calit2 Takes Top Honors in San Diego Architectural Foundation Awards

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Media Contacts

Media Contact: Doug Ramsey, 858-822-5825, dramsey@ucsd.edu