Client: Center City Development Corporation (CCDC)

The CCDC retained a multi-disciplinary team led by Gruen Gruen + Associates to prepare a master plan for a new San Diego civic center. The City’s civic center had consisted of an obsolete city administration building, an older but still usable city operations building, a theater and a parking arcade, along with an old convention facility. The team, led by GG+A, was charged with coming up with an implementable strategy for developing a new facility or establishing the rationale for providing municipal space in owned and lead facilities as an alternative to a new civic center. One of the initial tasks completed by the GG+A team was to quantify how much and what kind of space is needed and to identify the financial and land assets available to the City.

The four-phase process included initial examination of the economics of the downtown San Diego office market and consideration of whether the joint use of space by other government agencies fiscally advanced implementation or provided other non-economic benefits. Design studies were reviewed and the parameters for a center and the City’s space defined. One finding was that in the light of modern office-using technology, the 1.4 million square feet that had been estimated was considerably in excess of what would be needed. It was found further that an appropriately designed civic center could be expected to very significantly reduce the 470,000 square feet of office space the City was currently using in buildings leased throughout the downtown.

Joint use of the civic center by a museum, a central library and other facilities were also evaluated. In light of the new program forecast by the GG+A team, a variety of potential solutions, both with and without a civic center, were postulated and tested. These tests were conducted in a manner that permitted a valid comparison of alternatives, in terms of financial, economic, and other criteria.