The Pacific Coast Builders Conference (PCBC) Gold Nugget Awards were presented in a virtual awards presentation on June 16th to top innovators in design, planning and development and three HMC Architects’ projects were named as Grand Award winners in their respective categories. Selected by a panel of top industry experts who reviewed nearly 600 entries, judges felt that these projects showcase the most exciting trends in the design industry.

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. Judges felt that this project is a one-of-a-kind educational project and they were keen on its unique program and ZNE design.

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. The judges felt that this project was “a heart warmer.”

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. See the full list of award winners in the program’s winners book.