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Central utility power plant takes center stage at UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center

An undulating roof, floor-to-ceiling glass, and façade scheme give visual appeal to a plant that serves the 10-story medical center.

June 01, 2016 |
Central utility power plant takes center stage

UCSD Medical Center Central Plant in La Jolla, Calif. Photo: Kevin Turner. Click here to enlarge.

Central plants are the hot trend in commercial architecture. Traditionally an afterthought design-wise on healthcare, university, corporate, and city campus developments, power plants are being designed as showcase buildings with fanciful façades, daring forms, and prominent locations—anything but the 100% utilitarian structures of the past.

UCSD Medical Center Central Plant, La Jolla, Calif.

The latest example is the new central utility plant that serves the $860 million, 245-bed UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center. Since the 40,000-sf plant would be visible to staff, patients, and visitors in the 10-story medical center, the Building Team developed an undulating roof and façade scheme that masks the plant’s mechanical infrastructure and helps the facility blend in with the vegetated canyon beyond. Its floor-to-ceiling glass, earth tones, and sweeping curves—formed using metal battens coated with a color-changing paint—add visual appeal to the campus.

The LEED Gold plant can expand as the campus grows, with a capacity to serve one million sf of expansion.


Photo: Kevin Turner. Click to enlarge.



+Submitting firm: Kitchell (GC)
+Owner: UC San Diego Health System
+Architect: CannonDesign
+Structural: KPFF
+MEP: exp


Project size: 40,000 sf
Construction cost: $68 million 
Construction period: June 2012 to July 2015

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