After nearly two years of code alterations and negotiations with City, County, and State regulatory agencies, the team achieved approval to be the first building in California to be granted the rights to convert rain-to-potable water on site, and the first in the United States to use more than a dozen composting toilets in a single facility.
Upon completion, it will be the first municipal building of its size and density in the world striving to achieve these Living Building Challenge goals.
Dealing with departments spread across the City and suffering from the subsequent problems that arise from this separation, the City of Santa Monica worked with us to relocate its services operating groups into a single City Hall campus for the public benefit. This alone will save the City thousands of dollars a month in rental fees, travel costs, and building maintenance. Our team coordinated and is executing an advocacy campaign around walkability and active commuting amongst other City sites and the Metro routes. Long and short-term bicycle storage infrastructure and on-site showers (that align with the building’s water budget) encourage mobility and sustainable commutes while subsidies, monetary incentives and electric vehicle charging stations help motivate staff to use electric vehicles, public transportation, and carpool.
By centralizing many public services into one building, commutes are eliminated for the public and city staff.
This City and this building have not only prepared their community for a more socially, economically, and environmentally responsible future, it has set the stage for other municipalities across the nation to implement their own LBC and sustainable initiatives.
The transparent, light-filled City Services Building complements Santa Monica’s historic City Hall. Designed by Parkinson and Estep as a Public Works Administration project in 1939, the original building retains its position of prominence and its status as a state and local landmark, while the clean-lined City Services Building sits seamlessly behind it, extending the campus from Main Street to Avenida Mazatlan.
A spacious, palm-filled courtyard connects City Hall and the City Services Building. Tables and chairs grouped along the grounds welcome both city workers and the public, while smooth cement paths and low stairs lead to the City Services Building’s glass-enclosed lobby.
The first floor combines public services and workspaces: the permit counter and naturally-lit waiting area greet visitors, while employees slip back to the open-plan offices furnished by modular desks and rolling chairs.
Open work areas define the center of the City Services Building’s subsequent two floors, meeting rooms and specialized offices flanking them on each side. An internal hallway on the second floor connects City Hall to the City Services Building, giving employees easy access from one building to the other.
Each floor features expansive breakrooms and kitchens. The design invites frequent interaction between city employees, providing comfortable spaces for casual and formal conversation—whether in small meeting rooms or at kitchen islands, coffee bars or long, window-facing desks. A fluid layout facilitates efficient movement between one workstation and the next, or one wing and the next.
From the start, city officials envisioned the CSB as among the greenest buildings in the world. Once complete, the City Services Building will exceed Santa Monica’s current sustainability standards and set international records as the first municipal structure to receive Living Building Challenge Certification as a Net Zero Water and Net Zero Energy building.