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January 19, 2016

Completing UCSD Parking Structure

Maxine Ward

There’s a lot of construction happening on UCSD’s Medical Center campus, east of the 5 freeway in La Jolla! Right in the heart of it is this Studio E Architect’s designed parking structure, which is nearing completion. As part of the McCarthy led design-build team, we won the project back in 2014, along with IPD as the parking architect. You can read more about the win and see the renderings at this previous blog post.

The 7-story garage features perforated aluminum fins around the perimeter designed to shield the cars and lights within, activate the facade and break up the mass and simple form of the garage structure. The approach is akin to putting on some sparkly eye-catching jewelry!

Buried in the heart of the garage are two 80 feet tall thermal energy storage (TES) tanks. This design move not only screens the tanks from view but it cracks open the large floor plate of the garage, allowing light to penetrate into what would otherwise be the darkest spots in the garage.

Still in progress is the monumental stair at the southwest corner which connects the level 3 south walkway to the pedestrian thoroughfare of Health Sciences Walk. Also located at this junction is the glass elevator shaft. This was designed as a visual terminus to Health Sciences Walk and its vertical nature was accentuated by pronounced, over-sized vertical mullions in a lighter metallic color and darker horizontal mullions which tend to recede into the background. We are excited to see this area starting to come together!

The views from the street really show the play of light and shadow and the varied nature of the west facade along Medical Center Drive. A big success was stepping down the height here to 5 stories and the insertion of light wells to split the 360 foot long building into three chunks. The two-story volume space at the southwest corner accentuates a small plaza at the foot of the monumental stair, complete with a coffee cart. Beyond this space to the north projects a one-story box housing the information office. All these design moves serve to create a people friendly place at this important corner, proving that this parking structure is not only about the cars, all 1,259 of them!

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