Not many residents have walked into City Yards, but this 14.7-acre lot in the middle of town is home to public works that are essential for all Santa Monicans. However, the facility is in the midst of major renovations aimed at increasing the interactivity of residents, replacing outdated facilities and building sustainable buildings.
City Yards is home to facilities for water utilities, garbage and recycling services, street maintenance, fire department training, and more. These services are all vital to the city, and many did not function optimally on the original 80-year-old buildings, some of which were seismically unsafe or even outdated.
The renovation design was completed by Miller Hull while the construction was carried out by Hathaway Dinwiddie.
The redesign of the site began in July 2019 with the construction of the fleet building, which was completed in June 2021. The administration building and fire brigade training facility are expected to be completed by the end of 2022, while other parts of the project will run indefinitely due to COVID-19 budget cuts.
Located at 2500 Michigan Avenue, the yards were opened to the north after hiding behind a high wall for decades. The change is perhaps the most visually obvious change to residents.
“The design focuses on the public edges of the city yards and uses courtyards, plazas, landscaping and lighting to enhance a previously blind wall and the public area of the Bergamot Arts District across Michigan Ave Yards,” said Michael Palmore, associate at The Miller Hull Partnership.
As part of the renovation, a new event room is also planned, which will include a common room and an enclosed courtyard for the community outside of opening hours and access independent of the yards. For the 200+ city workers who use the yards, the upgrades will create a dramatically improved work environment with new lockers and toilets.
The renovation work also re-presents the outdated industrial complex as a center of sustainability and the project is designed for net-zero energy.
“The project will produce more energy than it consumes,” says Palmore, explaining the importance of net zero energy. “This is made possible by optimizing the use of energy through well-insulated wall and roof structures, the use of energy-saving mechanical devices and lights, an innovative heating system with radiant heating in the floor slab of the Fleet building; and through the generation of energy through photovoltaic panels that cover the roofs of all new buildings. “
The project is designed to maintain water neutrality, which is one of Santa Monica’s overarching sustainability goals. This means that this development will be completed without increasing the city’s overall water needs. By maintaining water neutrality, the renovations will not hinder the city’s efforts to become water self-sufficient by 2023.
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