After decades of planning, the Californian seaside city Del Mar has finally welcomed a new civic center to consolidate all of its primary public functions into one location at the heart of the community. Located on a 1.5-acre site with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, the Del Mar Civic Center is the work of West Coast-based The Miller Hull Partnership, who took inspiration for the design from the surroundings. The new civic center is also engineered for net-zero energy operations and is outfitted with a rooftop solar array, a rainwater harvesting system and programmable windows that take advantage of passive ventilation.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos
aerial view of solar-powered town hall buildings

Set adjacent to Camino Del Mar, the town’s main thoroughfare, the Del Mar Civic Center comprises a 3,000-square-foot Town Hall, a 9,000-square-foot City Hall, a 13,000-square-foot Town Commons and parking for 140 vehicles, most of which is tucked beneath the complex. All of the buildings were constructed with warm, natural materials such as wood and integrally colored concrete; durable ipe wood siding clads much of the exterior. The architects have likened the civic center to a set of family beachside cabins translated into a series of interconnected structures that follow the contours of the site to maintain a low-slung residential profile.

Related: Lush greenery blankets a passive solar community center in Singapore

people walking through open room with green chairs
meeting room connected to outdoor patio

The architects preserved 40% of the site as open space for gardens showcasing native and drought-tolerant plants, active and passive courtyards and a dedicated area for the community farmers market. Further emphasizing the complex’s connection to the outdoors is the abundance of windows, which frame views of the Pacific Ocean in almost every room and promote natural ventilation. Additional sustainable features include the complex’s partial earth sheltering for temperature regulation, porous paving, EV charging stations, daylight sensors and stormwater swales.

crowd of people near building with solar panels
glass and wood building with slightly slanted roofs

“City Halls have evolved into being much more than places representing civic gravitas,” noted Mike Jobes, design principal for the project. “They are a public investment in the infrastructure for the social aspects of community, where civic identity is formed through the ritual of public gatherings that are made possible by these spaces.”

+ The Miller Hull Partnership

Photography by Chipper Hatter via The Miller Hull Partnership