HMC Architects’ Resilient Roots and Cuyamaca College Student Services & Administration Building won the Society of American Registered Architects (SARA) California Chapter Merit Awards. These projects, which enrich the communities they serve, were honored at the annual SARA CA Design Awards Celebration on April 6.

Resilient Roots

Resilient Roots is more than just a project—it’s a testament to the enduring resilience of black Americans, a commitment to sustainability, and an homage to Allensworth California’s unwavering spirit. This transformative initiative confronts historical adversities head-on and turns them into invaluable community assets. From tackling water scarcity to reclaiming arsenic-laden soils, Resilient Roots emerges as a beacon of sustainable farming and resilience in the face of adversity.

With a strong focus on community well-being and growth, the design team embarked on a mission to craft an enriching equity center that equips the community with the resources for self-sufficiency while simultaneously establishing a resiliency hub Central to their vision of celebrating the town’s rich history and a commitment to fostering economic growth.

Cuyamaca College Student Services & Administration Building

Photo by: Lawrence Anderson

Cuyamaca College in Rancho San Diego, California, has a beautiful hillside campus with a lush and iconic central campus green space. Making access to services and support as easy as possible for the school’s 8,000 students was a driving concept of the design. Built into the slope of the hillside, the building is accessible from multiple levels. The entire circulation scheme is driven by the desire to create a seamless service experience while maximizing connection with the landscape. Engagement begins at the new arrival plaza, where visitors are greeted by the new welcome center and can access all levels of the building, including the rooftop garden, by dramatically cantilevered walkways and a monument stair hanging over the plaza below. Accessible indoor and outdoor spaces lead from admissions and financial aid on the first level, up through enrolled student support on the second level to the renovated Student Center, and upward with a new ADA path of travel to the top of the renovated central green space. The new building puts students at the center, fosters community, and provides a centralized hub of services at the center of campus.

SARA is a vibrant professional organization of architects and industry partners focused on fellowship, friendship, and mentorship guided by the mantra “Architect Helping Architect.” The SARA CA Design Awards Celebration celebrates design excellence from individuals, firms, and architecture students throughout the state. To learn more, visit the chapter’s website.