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Planning group gives thumbs up to redesign of Legacy Center

Posted: September 9th, 2016 | Features, News, Top Stories | No Comments

By Jeff Clemetson | Editor

At its Sept. 7 meeting, the Mission Valley Planning Group unanimously voted to support a redesign of the Morris Cerullo Legacy International Center by the architectural firm Carrier Johnson + CULTURE. The previous design was approved by the planning group, however issues with traffic and a design that was deemed too out the element for Mission Valley had troubled the project since the group first began reviewing it.

“I wish these guys would have been here three years ago when we started this. I think it would have started off on a much better note than it did,” planning group member Randy Dolph said at a presentation of the Carrier Johnson design to the Design Advisory Board (DAB) meeting on Sept. 6.

The new design for the Cerullo Legacy International Center (Courtesy of Carrier Johnson + Culture)

The new design for the Cerullo Legacy International Center (Courtesy of Carrier Johnson + Culture)

Officials with Carrier Johnson presented the new plans for the religious-themed resort that will take over the Mission Valley Resort Hotel property at 875 Hotel Circle South.

“What you’re going to see is a refinement that is designed to remove some of the challenging issues surrounding traffic and also to modify and enhance the architecture so the project will sit better with life in Mission Valley,” said Vincent Mudd, managing principal for Carrier Johnson.

The most pronounced change to the project is a reduction in floor plan area — from 538,000 to 391,000 square feet. This was achieved by “shrinking individual program spaces and the elimination and consolidation of some of the buildings,” project architect Michael Stonehouse said. The old plan, designed by architect Michael F. Hurrah at Caribou Industries, had six buildings and the new one has only four.

Even with the downsize, the Legacy Center will still include all its original uses: a religious museum, restaurants, religious training center, IMAX theater, gift shop parking structure, and a hotel instead of a time share, Stonehouse said.

The other major change to the plan is the reduction of traffic, from an estimated net reduction of around 87 percent, which was achieved by downsizing the project and widening the roadway by roughly 28 feet. Other changes to the plan include: eliminating 200 parking stalls; moving the hotel forward so it doesn’t encroach on the hillside on the southern edge of the property; removing the entry monuments that were deemed a visual barrier; minimizing the water features; changing the circulation of cars and pedestrians; adding solar panels; and creating a new plaza area.

Along with major structural changes, the Legacy Center project’s aesthetic design was also reimagined.

Project designer Lina As’ad said the new concept for the project was to treat the campus like a garden with different themes throughout.

“We were able to do that by making the center area of the three buildings a pedestrian walkable plaza and pushing the surface parking to the edges and the parking structure all the way back to the hillside,” she said.

For the buildings, the goal of the design was to “create a look that is international and timeless,” As’ad said. “We were able to achieve that by creating a duality of old and new.”

Artist renderings of an aerial view of the initial design left) and the new design for the Cerullo Legacy International Center (Courtesy of Carrier Johnson + CULTURE)

Artist rendering of an aerial view of the initial design (Courtesy of Carrier Johnson + CULTURE)

The buildings will incorporate open glass paired with stone offset with metal beams and spots of wood.

One of the design features is a vertical monument that will be next to a replica of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem that will have the words “peace, faith and forgiveness” etched in glass in different languages from around the world. There will also be etched metal panels near the plaza, As’ad said.

After the Carrier Johnson team made the presentation, planning group members praised the new design before voting to support it as it moves forward to review by the city’s Planning Commission.

“Coming from the perspective as an architectural designer, I really appreciate what’s happened here,” planning group member Andrew Michajlenko said. “It’s a phenomenally improved project.”

—Reach Jeff Clemetson at

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