San Diego Mesa College Math+Science Complex Wins Orchid Award

San Diego Mesa College. Clairemont Times File Photo

San Diego Mesa College Math+Science Complex Wins

Orchid Award from the San Diego Architectural Foundation

The $109.3 million Propositions N-funded facility honored for its distinctive landscape architecture


The San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF) honored San Diego Mesa College for outstanding landscape architecture at its annual Orchids & Onions awards ceremony on October 1, 2015. The college’s $109.3 million, four-story Math+Science Complex received an Orchid Award for its exterior landscaping, designed to be used for instruction in biology and the physical sciences.

The Math+Science Complex includes three drought-tolerant, globally-themed gardens: an Australian, South African, and San Diego native garden. A “geo garden” in the structure’s north courtyard features three, six-foot-tall stone wall segments that depict the earth’s layers. San Diego Mesa College has already received numerous accolades for new construction throughout the campus from distinguished organizations like the American Society of Landscape Architects, the American Institute of Architecture, the American Public Works Association, and the Construction Management Association of America. Additionally, the Math+Science Complex has received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), giving the campus five LEED-certified buildings – three Gold and two Silver.

The facility, completed in 2013, is the home for degree and certificate programs in Biology, Chemistry, Physical Sciences and Mathematics. The 206,000-gross-square-foot building consists of instructional classrooms; computer classrooms; teaching laboratory classrooms; and faculty, staff, and administrative support space. In addition to cutting-edge technology throughout, the complex includes numerous study spaces. Small group areas feature glass walls where formulas are often drawn for interactive study. Specialty spaces include a greenhouse and astronomy observation center.


“One of the unique aspects about the current transformation of Mesa College is that the faculty are expanding the ways we teach – and how students learn – beyond the traditional classroom. The Math+Science Complex is a perfect example of that,” noted Dr. Pamela T. Luster, president. “We’re thrilled to receive the Orchid Award on behalf of our biology faculty who had the vision to make these learning gardens a reality, and thank the voters of San Diego, whose passage of Props S and N has made the transformation of Mesa College possible.”

The San Diego Architectural Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to education and promotion of outstanding architecture, planning, and urban design throughout the San Diego region. It hosts the annual Orchids & Onions ceremony as an interactive, community-based program geared towards raising awareness and encouraging practical discourse in response to San Diego’s built environment. The SDAF solicits nominations and feedback from the San Diego community and allows individuals the opportunity to vote for buildings worthy of architectural accolades or critique. Nominated facilities are evaluated by a jury of design professionals.

In addition to unique landscaping, the building boasts numerous sustainable features:

·         The project maximizes the use of sustainable materials and materials with high recycled content. All wood surfaces in the building are made up of caramelized bamboo, a 100% sustainable resource since it does not require replanting after being harvested.

·         The project maximizes use of natural lighting, which reduces energy demands from artificial lighting, and helps to reduce eyestrain and increase productivity.

·         All windows utilize high-performance glass that allows sunlight to filter into the building, but reduces the amount of UV light and solar heat that enters.

·         All walls and roof areas are highly insulated, helping to conserve energy resources and making the building more comfortable by maintaining a healthy and uniform temperature.

Project Team:

·         Landscape Architect: Wimmer Yamada and Caughey

·         Architect: Delawie Wilkes Rodrigues Barker Architects (A|DWRB)

·         Construction Manager: McCarthy Building Companies

·         General Contractors: CM Multi-Prime

·         Civil Engineer: RBF Consulting

·         Electrical/Mechanical Engineer: exp

·         Structural Engineer: Hope Engineering

·         Propositions S & N Program Manager: Gafcon, Inc.

“Find out more about Mesa College’s Learning Gardens at Click on Campus Life to link to Learning Gardens

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