Del Mar Civic Center by Miller Hull Partnership

Miller Hull Partnership,

Chipper Hatter,

Del Mar, California, USA,

Architecture and Culture, Squares, Town Hall, Urban Architecture,

The Del Mar Civic Center in Del Mar, California is the quintessential product of Miller Hull Partnership’s design ethos: a civic centre with sustainable design embracing a great urbanistic solution and that basically operates off-the-grid.

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Del Mar Civic Center by Miller Hull Partnership Like many community institutions - libraries first and foremost - the role of civic centres has changed. Forward-thinking town councils have invested in these social infrastructures for the community, where civic identity is shaped through the ritual of public gatherings.
Del Mar is a coastal village in southern California and here, the Del Mar Civic Center built to a design by Miller Hull Partnership provides a central location where the primary public functions that had formerly been scattered across the town are now gathered in a single place, creating a new hub for community life. Located on a 6,000-square-metre property adjacent to the Pacific Coast Highway, the town’s main thoroughfare, the Civic Center functions as a series of interconnected structures, courtyards and terraces, and open space that follows the contours of the site, while preserving spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. 
A very large part of the site is preserved as open space with planted gardens, courtyards, and an area for the community farmers’ market. The Miller Hull Partnership architects based their design of the civic centre around its local context. The complex is almost residential in scale and has been built using warm, natural materials such as wood and integrally-coloured concrete, inspired by the sandstone bluffs below.  Spaces flow from one to another, as well as from inside to outside, like a set of family beachside cottages. The interiors take advantage of the sea breeze that provides natural ventilation through a cupola and operable clerestory windows.
The landscape architecture is a showcase for native and drought-tolerant plants, including Torrey pines that for generations have defined the area. Because of California’s ongoing drought, the city wanted to be as responsible with water use as possible: all the plant species on site are low to moderate water-use plants that are capable of withstanding higher amounts of water during large rain events. The project by Miller Hull also provides dual plumbing for the recycled water infrastructure expansion currently being installed up the Pacific Coast Highway, immediately adjacent to the project site. When connected, the purple pipe will provide 100 per cent of the irrigation and flushing fixture needs. Ornamental grasses and native plantings are used in bioretention and cleaning stormwater. Porous paving is used in the lower farmers’ market areas to reduce stormwater runoff.
Given the 264 days of sunshine each year, the installation of a 71.6 kW(DC) photovoltaic (PV) system on the roof of the new Civic Center made complete environmental and financial sense. The electricity produced provides nearly 100 per cent offset of building electricity and 95 per cent offset of all energy used in the building, not including parking lot or site energy use. This is important because the core civic building will also serve as an emergency operations centre in times of crisis, so it must remain operational. A 50-kW battery energy storage system (ESS) provides a minimum of five hours of backup, or supplemental power for resiliency when grid power is lost. This is not an unlikely event in California with its history of fires.
The Del Mar Civic Center by Miller Hull Partnership is the new flagship and heart of the Del Mar community, a very stylish construction that is the new flagship - and heart - of the Del Mar community, a place that proves the effectiveness of using sustainable architectural solutions.

Christiane Bürklein

Project: Miller Hull Partnership - https://millerhull.com/
Location: Del Mar, California, USA
Year: 2019
Images: Chipper Hatter


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