Earning praise for its leadership in building net-zero, highly sustainable municipal facilities, the newly completed Santa Monica City Hall East has claimed yet another honor, winning the 2020 Building Team of the Year Award from the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

As engineer and Living Building Challenge consultant for the project team, Buro Happold supported the architect Frederick Fisher & Partners and builder Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Co. The AIA Los Angeles board of directors will present the team with the prestigious laurels, part of its Presidential Awards, in late October during the group’s annual Design Awards ceremony.

"The Building Team of the Year Award acknowledges the efforts of a variety of entities successfully working together in the formation of a significant contribution to the built environment of the Los Angeles area,” according to AIA LA executive director Carlo Caccavale, Hon. AIA. “The board could not think of a project more deserving for this award.”

The modern expansion of Santa Monica’s city hall complex adds a range of cutting-edge features to the municipality’s facilities, including a water-recycling solar power array on the roof. The super-green new structure is tracking to achieve the exceptional Living Building status, according to Amber Richane, the city’s head of sustainability, and Buro Happold architect Heidi Creighton, AIA, LEED Fellow, WELL Faculty and Fitwel Ambassador, who helped lead the collaborative effort along with Buro Happold engineer Julian Parsley P.E. spearheading the mechanical and plumbing systems design for the unusually efficient, sustainable building.

“Living Building Challenge is a rigorous and quite rare achievement for a government owner,” says David Herd, managing partner for Buro Happold, Los Angeles, who adds that the municipally owned public services facility is unique in the nation as the first to recycle rainwater into potable water and store all of its greywater for irrigation and other city uses. Other innovations the team developed for Santa Monica’s City Hall East include "edible plants and sunset art," as well as:

  • Achieving net-zero water through composting toilets and graywater reuse for irrigation landscaping across the City Hall campus.
  • Super-efficient radiant cooling/heating, high-performance glazing, natural ventilation, and phase-change insulating materials.
  • No red list chemicals within the building except those required by code, which means no halogenated flame retardants, PVC, or phthalates. 

Efficiently housed in a single structure measuring 50,200 square feet with three floors and a basement, the City Hall East building brings key departments and vital public counter functions under one roof.

Buro Happold says that other state, federal and municipal agencies have carefully watched Santa Monicato create their own super-green buildings with low water use. A new video by Buro Happold on the award-winning Santa Monica City Hall East may be viewed online here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpOybZARYWk.