Horton Plaza: Bringing Highly Sustainable Scientific Innovation to Downtown San Diego

Calina Ferraro, Integral Group
Ransom Hamrick, Integral Group

In 1982, the Horton Plaza shopping center transformed San Diego's downtown scene, bringing retail and public life back to the urban core. Now as San Diego is quickly becoming a tech, bio, and R+D talent magnet, Campus at Horton is once again bringing that energy from the suburbs back to downtown.

Currently in construction, the Campus at Horton is a transformation from the iconic outdoor mall to a new nearly one-million-square-foot mixed use campus, including a 10-story high-rise, all-electric, life science tower. The tower grew from an original 5-story structure that previously housed a department store. Now, targeting LEED Platinum, this new life science tower will incorporate airside and waterside energy recovery, variable controls and sensing for lab exhaust, air-source heat pumps for heating and to supplement the campus chilled water central plant, and a photovoltaic and battery storage energy system.

A deep dive into this case study explores the design strategies, the design-assist delivery method, the challenges faced in converting an existing structure and in delivering life science tenant space in a high-rise tower, all while targeting the highest levels of sustainable performance and carbon-free operation.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify challenges with high-rise lab design;
  • Describe strategies and challenges associates with all-electric lab design;
  • Describe energy efficiency strategies that can be incorporated into shell-and-core lab fitout; and
  • Understand how the design-assist delivery method can support expedited delivery of life science projects.


Calina is a mechanical engineer and LEED AP with 15 years of sustainable design experience in life science, commercial, higher education, and civic projects. She leads Integral Group's San Diego office providing deep green engineering solutions across the Western U.S.

Ransom is a mechanical engineer and LEED AP. He brings over a decade of design and project management experience with a strong focus in integrated and sustainable design. His experience includes new construction and renovations in a number of sectors, including life science, commercial, and higher education.


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