Workplace, West-Coast Style: Viasat’s New California Campus

For many people, the phrase “corporate campus” connotes a set of monolithic, institutional structures. That is a far cry from what employees and visitors will encounter at Viasat’s new campus in Carlsbad, California. Located across the street from Viasat’s existing headquarters, the new campus – the largest development in the city of Carlsbad – embodies the company’s culture of creativity, exploration, freedom, and innovation.

Viasat is Carlsbad’s largest employer. For more than 30 years, the global communications company has helped shape how consumers, businesses, governments and militaries around the world communicate. Today, the company comprises more than 4,500 people across 26 offices.

The firm’s campus expansion, situated on 23 acres, will accommodate six office buildings of two or three stories, ranging in size from 77,000 to 120,00 square feet and totaling 587,000 square feet; along with three parking structures, a café/conference center, and recreational amenities. Two buildings and a courtyard are complete; construction is progressing on the rest of the site.

Architect Milos Makaric of SCA gave us an update on this complex expansion, along with an overview of the new campus and the ways in which SCA and Syska are working together.

According to Milos, the campus design “reflects the proximity to the ocean and beach and the casual California way of living.” A sense of openness is another thematic element. “We gave careful consideration to not only the campus elevations, but also to the buildings facing El Camino Real [California’s historic “Royal Road”] and Viasat’s neighbors,” he notes. For example, a corner building offers below-grade parking, which provides secure entry for visitors without interrupting views.

Some of the planned recreational amenities would not be out of place in a resort. Intended to foster “unexpected experiences” as well as interaction among employees, clients, and visitors, these include hammocks, swings, bocce ball courts, jogging trails, several shade structures for informal meetings, trees surrounded with bar-height counters for outdoor eating, an outdoor stage, fire pits, and a barbeque.

Employees who can’t make it outdoors will nevertheless find the indoor environments to be perfectly comfortable, thanks to the mechanical and plumbing systems that Syska has designed. Our work encompasses an acoustically sensitive conferencing center with a custom air handler, 24/7 cooling of select critical spaces, technology laboratories with strategic ventilation and heat rejection, atrium displacement ventilation cooling and heating, ventilation systems for the underground car park, and kitchen ventilation systems for the café/dining facility.

Energy efficiency was a key design consideration. Indeed, the project qualified for incentives from the San Diego Gas and Electrical Savings by Design program, which encourages design and construction of energy-efficient buildings. All buildings will be equipped with PV systems that offset energy use from the grid. Some buildings will even exceed the strict requirements of the California energy code by more than 10 percent.

“Teamwork is the key to making this project successful and finishing everything on time for Viasat employees to enjoy the new campus,” says Milos. “Syska has been very understanding of the aggressive schedule and the need for sometimes very quick turnaround of documents. Consequently, the permitting process has been smooth.”

As for Viasat employees, Milos reports that they are “extremely excited” by the new campus and that they “can’t wait to move in.” We’d like to move in too!

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