Judges for the 2021 Gold Nugget Awards (GNA) have named four HMC-designed projects as Award of Merit winners. Cal Poly Pomona Student Housing and Dining, Floyd Farms at Leataata Floyd Elementary, Honeybee Discovery Center, and Portola High School were selected from over 600 entries from around the world as the top vote recipients in each category. As a result of these honors, these projects are automatic nominees for the Grand Award, the highest honor in each category, which will be announced on June 16 in a virtual presentation hosted by the Pacific Coast Builders Conference (PCBC) 

Cal Poly Pomona Student Housing and Dining

Category: Best Student or Faculty Housing  

One of the biggest drawbacks of a school where many freshmen commute is the struggle to socialize. So, when HMC envisaged a new design for Cal Poly Pomona, our team had a key underlying objective: Create intimate environments that keep students on campus and encourage them to feel part of a community. Cal Poly’s new residential towers and dining commons serve as a highly visible entry point—transforming the campus into a modern-living cosmopolitan populace. The two mid-rise student housing buildings interlace shared social spaces, natural light, and open-air connections throughout the entire eight floors of each structure. Every nook and in-between space is designed for informal inhabitation where students can interact and make life-long connections. Warm materials, residential lighting, and large communal tables resonate with the warmth of home for students in the new 650-seat dining commons located at the campus entrance and gateway to the housing community. The collaborative design-build team consisted of HMC (executive architect and housing design architect), EYRC Architects (dining commons architect), and Sundt Construction. 

Floyd Farms at Leataata Floyd Elementary

Category: Best Educational Project 

A dream of the Food Literacy Program and Sacramento City USD for over a decade, Floyd Farms will house the program’s headquarters, a cooking classroom, and a farm where students and community members can actively practice the “Farm to Fork” philosophy. As an organization built around the tenets of health, wellness, and the environment, it was paramount that the headquarters reflected these same values while adhering to the non-profit’s tight budget. Fruits and veggies will be grown on-site and washed and prepared in the shade of the outdoor learning classroom. Meals are later prepared in the Net Zero Energy kitchen for healthy bodies and a healthy environment. The learning kitchen is anchored by a large demonstration counter and is surrounded by domestic cooking stations for kids to gain a hands-on kitchen experience. The building itself also functions as a learning tool where users actively observe on-site energy-conscious features in action. Solar panels, rainwater collection, operable windows and ceiling fans, and a holistic heating and cooling system are employed to reduce energy waste. As Sacramento City USD’s first project to pursue ZNE, the building will produce as much energy as it uses and is free from all fossil fuels. 

Honeybee Discovery Center 

Category: Best Special Use Project 

Considered the “Queen Bee Capital of North America,” Orland, California is the annual home of a million honeybee colonies, which pollinate the local almond groves. The Honeybee Discovery Center, a non-profit dedicated to educating the public, envisions a new high-performance building illustrating how development can alleviate the very problems that plague bees. Housed in a large indoor-outdoor shed, the Center provides an exhibit, an event space, and a public landmark shaped to be intelligent and memorable. The enclosed spaces are oriented east-west under an umbrella roof, which suits the needs of the different programs and performance goals. At the south entry, a low roof with a pollinator garden is tilted to be visible to arriving school buses but low enough to create a stable soil bed. The hovering garden keeps bees visible, but out of reach. Over the main hall, the angle of the roof is nearly ideal for solar exposure at this latitude, allowing photovoltaic arrays to generate power just over the site’s energy demand. Together, the solar array and the roof garden represent two kinds of photosynthetic roofs—artificial and natural. The project, currently in design, is pursuing net-zero-energy, net-zero water, LEED Platinum, and Living Building Challenge. 

Portola High School 

Category: Best Educational Project 

Surrounded by regional history and inspired by local geography, Portola High School in Irvine, California, is a twenty-first-century school where learning happens everywhere. With flexible open spaces, collaboration zones, and science and innovation labs, it looks and feels more like a college campus than a high school. The site rests on the edge of a new planned development surrounding the Great Park, formerly the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Classroom buildings are clustered to promote cross-collaboration between students, teachers, and different disciplines, with second-floor walkways connecting the learning clusters. By identifying multiple uses for spaces, HMC reduced the number of rooms built. This cost savings enabled the district to add a performing arts building with a 700-seat theater, aquatic center, and stadium in the initial construction phase rather than subsequent phases, which is more typical.

GNA is the largest and most prestigious competition of its kind in the nation. It honors design and planning achievements in community and home design, green-built housing, site planning, commercial, retail, mixed-use development, and specialty housing categories. To learn more or to see a full list of award winners, visit  PCBC’s website.