Del Mar council approves civic center design

A rendering of Del Mar’s new civic center. / Credit The Miller Hull Partnership
A rendering of Del Mar’s new civic center. / Credit The Miller Hull Partnership

After months of concerns and contributions from the community, architects unveiled updated designs for Del Mar’s new civic center, and this time, they were met with praise.

“I think this is very much hitting the nail on the head for creating the kind of feel that I think represents Del Mar,” said Councilman Terry Sinnott.

The council brought the architectural team on board in April.

Since then, The Miller Hull Partnership has welcomed community input, starting with a meet-and-greet in May. The design team quickly learned from the community that the civic center should be the public heart of Del Mar, fit within the context of the village and residential neighborhood, and provide flexibility to allow for future expansion.

Following the first gathering, another public workshop was held in June, the council and community provided further design direction at meetings in June and July, the Design Review Board initially reviewed the project in August, and the draft environmental impact report for the project was released in September, followed by a third public workshop with the architects later that month.

Located on the site of the city’s current facilities at 1050 Camino del Mar, the proposed project includes a 9,250-square-foot city hall for administrative services, a 3,200-square-foot town hall for community gatherings and government meetings, a 15,000-square-foot outdoor public plaza for community activities, including the weekly Farmers Market, and 160 spaces for parking in both a two-level underground parking garage and a surface parking lot.

City Hall and town hall will be connected by a breezeway with large pivotal doors. The roof of town hall extends over the space. Using the breezeway as overflow space, the town hall could accommodate up to 260 people seated at round tables.

“I’m envisioning some really wonderful celebrations once we get this built,” said Councilman Don Mosier. “Everybody in town is invited — and we’ll have room for everybody.”

The plan also allows for future expansion at the site, with a 4,500-square-foot space in the northeast corner of the site, a 2,700-square-foot space at the south end of city hall, and 4,500-square-foot space in the southwest corner of the site.

At the last workshop on Sept. 28, residents reiterated that the buildings depicted in early designs presented this summer were too boxy and modern, and ultimately, did not fit the community character.

“We heard a lot of feedback that, I think, really changed our course,” said Mike Jobes, principal with The Miller Hull Partnership.

The type of roof for the buildings became the single-most discussed topic. In an attempt to maintain views and maximize functionality, the architects originally proposed a tipped roof that would run parallel to the upslope views of the Pacific Ocean, but many community members preferred a gable roof, or high-pitched roof, like those found in a number of downtown buildings such as L’Auberge Del Mar.

After further discussion, residents settled on a hip roof for town hall, a type of roof where all sides slope downwards to the walls. In the updated design, Jobes shared the new look for town hall with a roof that resembles the hip roof of Union Bank, also located on Camino del Mar.

The new town hall will sit at the highest point of the site on the corner of 10th Street and Camino del Mar. The highest point will reach the height limit. With the modified hip roof, the building is now the focal point of the property, but not too grand for the public space, Jobes explained. Inspired by the city’s iconic Torrey pines, the roof will be held up with a wooden truss.

Like the truss, other materials will reflect the natural environment. Plans include an anchor wall for town hall and a stucco wall for city hall that could use leaves or even handprints for texture. The sandstone color resembles the ocean bluffs.

( / The Miller Hull Partnership)

During the last workshop, attendees also agreed that at least the food portion of the Farmers Market should be located on the outdoor surface parking lot on the west side of the site, while arts, crafts and jewelry vendors could still set up on the main plaza fronting Camino del Mar. Therefore, the architects better integrated the two levels with a stairway on the corner of the northwest section of the site.

The plaza will be framed by a linear garden, eliminating walls and creating an inviting environment, explained Andrew Spurlock of landscape architecture firm Spurlock Poirier

Artificial turf will be installed on top of the garage to allow for a wide array of activities. Two Torrey pines will be planted on the property in place of existing trees, with smaller trees and trellises also scattered throughout the site for shade.

( / The Miller Hull Partnership)

After seeing the revised designs, three residents praised the plans and thanked the team for being responsive to the community. Two other residents also spoke in support of the plan just prior to the presentation.

“I think I’m announcing my candidacy for presidency of the Mike Jobes fan club,” said resident Betty Wheeler, which drew laughter from the council and crowd.

“There is nothing wrong with contemporary, particularly when it’s done as well as it’s done here,” said Del Mar resident and developer Jim Watkins. “I would like to thank Mike, the architect, for listening to the community. Something that was very, very unacceptable is something that I think is marvelous today.”

“Wow,” said longtime resident Tensia Trejo. “I’ve waited a long time for this. Tonight I saw something very beautiful.”

The council agreed.

“I join the fan club,” said Councilman Dwight Worden. “I like the design. I’m ready to move forward with it.”

Mosier said the design “accomplishes almost all the goals” the city set out for the design team.

“I think they’ve been fully responsive to the community and the council,” Mosier said. “Miller Hull was chosen for this task because they have a history of listening well to the community. I think our faith in selecting them as the design team has been fulfilled.”

With the council’s approval of the civic center design, the project will now continue to the design review process.

The architects will present their updated designs to the Design Review Board during the Nov. 18 meeting, which is set for 6 p.m. at the Del Mar Communications Center. A Citizens’ Participation Program meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Del Mar Communications Center. The meeting is intended for residents within 300 feet of the project site, but is also another opportunity for all community members to share concerns and ask questions.

The Design Review Board hearing is slated for 6 p.m. Dec. 16 at the Del Mar Communications Center. The council will then hold an EIR certification and entitlement hearing on Jan. 4, 2016.