Architecture awards honor converted grocery store, mixed-use

Architecture awards honor converted grocery store, mixed-use

The conversion of a nearly 40-year-old grocery store into a luxury gym received top honors at this year’s San Diego architecture awards.

Equinox La Costa in Carlsbad received the honor Thursday night for the $4.4 million conversion of a 31,000-square-foot abandoned former Vons. The distinction was for the annual Design Awards from the San Diego chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Architect Retail Design Collaborative, of Long Beach, said it took about two years to complete the Equinox project, which included a lounge, juice bar, yoga area, steam room and management offices. Materials included porcelain tiles, cedar, flamed marble and recycled materials.

The jury said it admired the transformation as an example of sustainability, as well as the use of natural light in the core of the building. Skylights amplify daylight that spreads rays throughout the building, including locker rooms.

“The material palette is simple, and elegant and used with restraint to effectively define programmatic activities,” said comments from the five-member selection panel.

Equinox is a luxury fitness company that started in New York City. Retail Design Collaborative design director Jonathan Lopez said the challenge was to create something that was true to its urban roots but also connected to the vibe of Southern California.

“It’s amazing to see how the reimagination of something unused can truly transform a neighborhood,” he said. “So, we’ve been excited about the success of the project.”

Begun in 1960, the Design Awards program on Thursday also recognized three other projects with honors. Other projects received merits and citations, and there were a few individual categories decided on by the architecture institute’s board. There were 88 submissions this year.