The research facility, which is expected to earn LEED Silver certification, provides UCSD with a space and capacity to research nano-tube technologies and new structural aerospace materials. The design of the facility includes offices, wonderful high-bay testing areas, digital imaging computer labs, long term testing spaces, and large workshops. Miller Hull and Safdie Rabines Architects provided an in-depth daylighting analysis of the building in order to ensure that the laboratory spaces receive as much natural light as possible. Their analysis also took into account the placement of sun shading in order to minimize the use of air conditioning. The exterior blind system also helps with this task through the use of a solar clock, which automatically protects the interior from intense, direct sunlight and direct heat gain.
Other sustainable features include a large photovoltaic array on the roof of the building, which covers almost 50% of the roof area. The large cooling units, also located on the roof, provide the building with water for irrigation. The building’s immense use of concrete in its structure and in-slab radiant cooling throughout the building helps to keep the building cool during the day. The design team looked at the regional use of concrete in building such famed facilities, such as the Salk Institute, and saw the concrete as a sustainable, local material that could help reduce the life-cycle cost of the building.
Dean Frieder Seible of the Jacobs School of Engineering instilled in the design team that this building should speak to the Bauhaus movement, “which brought art, technology and craftsmanship together and created modern architecture.” The spaces within the building that are meant for this Bauhaus-like collaboration bring all the building’s students together in a woven cross pollination of educational departments. These spaces also contain intimate views of the natural surroundings of Pepper Canyon, which help contribute inspiration to the collaboration. The straight portion of the building is split from the curved by a unique elevated bridge. The bridge exits the second level onto a landscaped hill, which serves as a communal outdoor area. This area literally is the expansion and blurring of the Pepper Canyon environment right into the entrance of the building.
Miller Hull has proved time and time again that it is not a checklist that creates the buildings they design. As Miller Hull Associate Brian Court explained, “a lot of the fundamental concepts of LEED are embedded in Miller Hull’s work.” Many times, Miller Hull’s designers have found themselves in positions where a client may not decide to pursue a sustainable accreditation until later in the design or construction process. This engineering building was no different, and thankfully Miller Hull was already two steps ahead of the decision. This building exemplifies ingenuity, and thus its LEED design will continue to educate UCSD students and staff for decades to come.