The highly celebrated new “net zero” building at Palomar College caps off a year of regional, state and national awards by winning the Malone Grand Orchid from the San Diego Architectural Foundation.

SAN MARCOS — The accolades kept rolling in during the month of October for Palomar College’s newest Prop. M building project, the Maintenance & Operations (M&O) complex that has housed the Facilities Department since early in 2019.

On Thursday, Oct. 3 at the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego, the San Diego Architectural Foundation awarded M&O its highest honor, the Malone Grand Orchid, bringing the awards tally to eight over the last year.

“It’s considered the best of the best, so to be awarded this honor is really special,” said Dennis Astl, Manager of Construction and Facilities Planning at Palomar. “There were over 100 submissions in all of the different categories, and when you look at some of the other Orchid winners, they were very nice projects.”

Read about how the M&O building keeps energy consumption to a bare minimum.

A total of 14 Orchids were awarded by the Foundation at the ceremony, with the top honor named for the San Diego architect and developer who founded the organization, Ed Malone, and his wife, Barbara.

The architectural jurors were impressed by the project’s thoughtful features, as well as by the attention to detail that went into executing the project.

“It is not only beautiful but functional, practical, comfortable, conscious of its location and its relationship to it in terms of the landscape and its use,” wrote one.

“It had remarkable attention to detail where every joint—from the sidewalk, to the window fins, to the metal panels—all lined up perfectly,” noted another.

A crew installs solar panel infrastructure on the roof of the Operations wing of the M&O building in August 2019.

M&O started winning awards well ahead of its April 12, 2019 grand opening. Among the previous accolades was the national “Best of the Best” in Green Design by Engineering News-Record (ENR) Magazine.

Driving the accolades are numerous passive design features that, combined with a 180 KW solar array that went online in September, are expected to make the building “net zero” in terms of energy consumption during its first year of operation.

“It’s a very, very well thought out design—the detailing and coordination is really elegant and simple, so it stands out,” Astl said. “Maintenance and operations buildings are typically big, boxy warehouses with no windows. So to have this quality of design—when you look across the country, I’m sure this is one of the nicest ‘facilities’ buildings you’re going to find. And it’s very sustainable and energy-efficient at the same time.”

M&O Building Solar Panel Installation from Palomar TV on Vimeo.

 

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