December 17, 2010
Entryway to UC San Francisco's redesigned office space at 645 Minnesota St.

The top 2010 Livable Buildings Award from the University of California, Berkeley's Center for the Built Environment (CBE) goes to UC San Francisco for its transformation of the shell of a former manufacturing plant near UCSF's new Mission Bay research campus into environmentally and user friendly offices.

The CBE's fourth annual Livable Buildings Awards were announced today (Friday, Dec. 17), following voting on award entries by a team of judges assessing excellence of design, operation and occupant satisfaction. They are the only awards to include the preferences of building occupants in selection criteria. Award entries are open only to the top scorers in CBE's Occupant Indoor Environmental Quality Survey, which is used to study occupant satisfaction in terms of air quality, lighting, thermal comfort and overall building satisfaction and has been implemented in more than 860 buildings in North America and Europe.

Kitchen at the new UCSF building.

The use of sustainable finish materials, reduced water usage and high-performing mechanical and lighting systems earned UCSF's redesigned space at the three-story, 645 Minnesota St. address a Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) certification.

The overhaul of the building for UCSF's Capital Programs & Facilities Management staff was designed by STUDIOS Architecture and Taylor Engineering. It included a full seismic upgrade, replacement of old windows with high-performance glazing and operable windows, increased daylight, addition of color and improved functionality, with special attention to sustainability and ergonomics throughout.

"There are challenges in doing a renovation, with constraints like a wide floorplate, which would not be desirable if built from scratch," noted one judge in the CBE competition. "But this building used transparency, materials and color, and created a workplace that people want to be in."

According to Michael Bade, interim vice chancellor and campus architect for UCSF's Capital Programs & Facilities Management, the Minnesota Street renovation has improved employee satisfaction, departmental collaboration and workflow.

He said the capital programs team jointly developed a questionnaire with CBE to evaluate design of biomedical research laboratories, and used the center's pre- and post-occupancy surveys to help improve the team's performance.

"From these surveys, we capture information that would be difficult to obtain any other way," said Bade after learning of the Livable Building Award. "It helps us understand what our customers experience and whether we have delivered a quality product. And based on the evidence provided by this year's award, our efforts are paying off!"

Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at the Stanford
Linear Accelerator Center in Menlo Park, CA

Meanwhile, the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in Menlo Park, Calif., received the 2010 Livable Building Award honorable mention.

At the Kavli Institute, EHDD Architecture of San Francisco designed a 25,000-squarefoot building of offices, labs, meeting rooms and an auditorium. Design focused on sustainability and resource efficiency through features such as solar orientation and sun shading, underfloor air delivery and options for natural ventilation through operable windows.

One competition judge commended the building's integration into the landscape and its very high workplace satisfaction scores.

More details about the projects and their CBE survey results are online at the Center for the Built Environment.