Welcome to Viva-city and Downtown San Diego
Sandra Simmons, Viva-city

Life in the City

-by Sandra Simmons

A place for the people – Gerding Edlen

Once again, futurists seek to provide an economical and psychological boost to our waning progress. And once again, another study is commissioned to evaluate the viability of the Civic Center Complex.

With leases on current city-occupied buildings ready to expire, proactive steps are being taken to evaluate the present and future practicality of continuing on “as is” or taking a big leap into the future.

Numerous specialized consultants were engaged to crunch complex numbers associated with various short and long-term scenarios.

San Diego City HallWhat was found was not a surprise to anyone. The existing buildings contain a great deal of asbestos, mechanical systems significantly passed their life time, a decaying roof, outdated energy efficient lighting, heating, cooling systems, dysfunctional and redundant work space environments, and doesn’t meet current fire and safety codes.

Gerding Edlen proposes to build a 34-story City Hall with a design that surpasses the requirements to attain a LEED Platinum Rating–the highest level of USBGC certification.

The iconic, intelligently designed City Hall would be a model for sustainability by utilizing rooftop wind turbines, integrating photovoltaic solar panels into the design, an on-site water gray and black treatment and reclamation system, hydronic heating and cooling systems, and a thermal storage system to reduce peak energy demands.

The design incorporates green roofs, native drought-tolerant landscaping, rainwater harvesting, natural ventilation, and solar shading.

The goal: The new City Hall would produce more energy than it consumes. This is the future presented to us now.

San Diego has it all–the finest weather, stunning geography, delightful people, and unsurpassed potential.  So, why do some say San Diego lacks a creative vision to make our town rank among world-class cities? Could it be the attributes that make San Diego so desirable also contribute to our failure to craft an ideal metropolis? Do we create a place for people or allow people to stop the future in its place?

I question…Do we make way for the future or hold on to our past?

“The current building is a disaster waiting to happen. Do we place a Band-Aid on the building in hopes to save money later? I think not,” opines Bill Sauls, M2i.

Diego Velasco (M2i) eloquently answered, “Our spectacular geography and unique natural environment should be the best source of inspiration for how we build our city. If we can recognize this and pay homage to it, we can achieve great things.”

Over the last fifteen years, modern buildings, some extremely striking, have been sprouting up all over Downtown. Yet, in the center of it all, meekly hides our Civic Center Complex.

Policies that affect our daily lives, and our very future, are being handed down by decision makers who work in frumpy and dowdy buildings constructed in the mid-1960s; buildings past their prime.

Though a compelling enough reason to rebuild the center of our government, this isn’t the real reason. Economically and psychologically, it makes sense. Our city deserves better. A world-class city needs a world-class place for the people. -July 2009

Return to Top