Metal panels help San Diego parking garage blend in

A rendering of the completed Osler building.
Photo courtesy Gensler

A new parking structure at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) is located at the forefront of the campus, making it easily accessible for students arriving and leaving the school grounds, and includes a Visitor’s Center.

“Contributing to the transformation of UC San Diego, Swinerton, Gensler, and Watry designed and constructed the Osler Parking Structure to recede into the La Jolla campus eucalyptus groves utilizing an innovative scrim method that brings the bulk and scale of the 1,300-space garage down into the urban forest with tree-like form,” said Joel King, assistant vice chancellor and campus architect for UCSD.

The six-level structure blends in with the campus’ eucalyptus groves thanks to a multilayered façade with angled, perforated metal panels that captures and transforms the shadows of the adjacent trees onto a modulated, curving concrete mass. The design of the building incorporates lobby portals that announce visitors’ arrival through glass-backed elevator towers and projecting canopies. It also contains a parking guidance system that counts individual parking spaces and lets drivers know if the structure is full. A pedestrian bridge on the fourth level, leads to Library Walk and the rest of the campus.

To help blend the parking structure into the surrounding campus, the team took advantage of the terrain, which is in a natural depression. By nestling the parking structure down into it, a five level garage appears to be a two story building.

Designers used moment frame construction instead of shearwalls as the seismic resisting system to ensure the building had enough natural light and ventilation. In addition, the light wells widen in the direction pedestrians need to walk, helping people find their way and allowing for access to daylight deep within the structure.

Sustainable elements of the facility include bicycle parking, water efficient landscaping, and LED lighting design with motion sensors and photocells to save energy.

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