Government

New Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk Office and Archive Wins Coveted Orchid Award

ARCC office at night Image Credit: courtesy of Chipper Hatter

The County of San Diego’s new Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk’s Office & Archive building in Santee has a new record to file — 2020 Orchid award winner for outstanding architecture.

The ARCC Office was one of 14 projects honored with a coveted “Orchid” award last week by the San Diego Architectural Foundation at its yearly “Orchids and Onions” gala. The event honors the best and worst in local architecture, historic preservation, interior design, urban planning and landscape architecture.

Judges’ comments for the County building included: “An incredible, sustainable and thoughtful project that will stand beautifully the pass of time,” “It is impressive how much they could do with limited financial resources,” and “we need more outstanding civic buildings like this!”

The 25,000-square-foot ARCC Office & Archive officially opened in March but is currently closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic. It includes an outdoor wedding arbor and indoor marriage room, 125 parking spaces under solar canopies and was built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold standards. It was designed by Miller Hull Partnership, LLC; built by C.W. Driver, and overseen by County Department of General Services Project Manager Luis Peris.

Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk Ernie Dronenburg, who initiated the ARCC Office & Archive project, said, “This award shows civic architecture can provide a community with the services it needs and enhance its visual appeal. We can have the best of both form and function.”

The ARCC building also includes something new for the County: its first archive for historic documents dating back to 1850.

Documents and microfilm of maps, deeds, birth, marriage and death certificates, and other important records will eventually rest in a dedicated 4,400-square-foot repository at the ARCC office, complete with its own generator, heating and air conditioning, and state-of-the-art fire suppression system. The County archive is the first zero energy archive in the United States. It’s also the County’s sixth net zero energy facility.

The archives will be managed by the County’s first-ever archivist. Once the records are assembled at the archive, they will be able to be used by county residents and others to conduct research and be seen electronically or by appointment, based upon their physical condition.

The ARCC Office & Archive building’s honor extends the County’s recent streak of Orchid awards.

In 2019, a complex of three County facilities in Borrego Springs, a librarypark and Sheriff’s office, received an Orchid. In 2017, the County’s then-new Imperial Beach Library was named the popular favorite in that year’s Orchids and Onions awards. The Waterfront Park, County Operations Center and Fallbrook Library have all been awarded Orchids of their own.

And now the new ARCC Office & Archive has its own record for the archives — its own blue ribbon.

Water Poem for the Sky (mobile) and Mountains to Sea (mural) by Christine Nguyen, 2019
Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact