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Inside the Center For Creative Leadership’s New San Diego Campus

After 24 years at the Aventine, a new home on Torrey Pines Mesa

Editor’s Note: I sat down for a Q&A with the Hughes Marino team that helped the Center for Creative Leadership realize its vision for an innovative and inspiring new campus in Torrey Pines. Read what Senior Vice President John Jarvis, Construction Management Division President Dean Petersen, and Project Manager Zane Keith had to say about this cool new facility.

John, when did you first get involved with the Center for Creative Leadership?

John: My CCL story starts in 2002, when I was hired to help negotiate a renewal of their San Diego campus real estate lease in one of San Diego’s premier office towers, the Aventine. CCL was captive – they didn’t want to move and they had significant specialized improvements. They couldn’t move, really, and their landlord knew this. The lease was scheduled to expire in two years, and CCL was concerned that their landlord was planning to hit them with a major rent increase. Before starting negotiations, I was given the opportunity to attend their leadership development program, to better understand the good work that CCL does, and also to gain insight on how they use their physical space in delivering these programs. It sounded like fun to me.

The center’s spacious lunchroom offers comfy seating and ocean views to help participants in its leadership programs relax and recharge.
The center’s spacious lunchroom offers comfy seating and ocean views to help participants in its leadership programs relax and recharge.

What did you learn in the program?

John: My experience that week was profound, and it started me on a leadership journey that continues to this day. Here is what I learned – Leadership, at the highest levels of the largest organizations, is fundamentally about interpersonal skills. As a leader at a large company, we can’t do it all, and we must work through our teams. In other words, we must work with people. First, we must understand ourselves, how we are wired, and why we do the things we do. Then we can begin to understand our teammates, how they are different and how we are the same. With self-awareness and empathy, we can begin to work together towards a common goal. When everyone on the team has a voice, and all are trusted to share their ideas, we find an entirely new level of engagement and team strength.

Bar top seating and a paper crane folding station create the perfect setting for serendipitous meetings.
Bar top seating and a paper crane folding station create the perfect setting for serendipitous meetings.

I also learned that the Aventine office tower was great, but it didn’t enhance the program experience. I learned that many of the executives in my group had chosen the San Diego campus because of our beautiful weather. I found it ironic that, as we gathered in sunny San Diego for this week away from our jobs for a week of introspection and learning, we were ensconced on an upper floor of an office tower! Through a series of conversations with CCL leadership about the building and the programs we all came to realize that, in fact, the ideal setting for these programs is not an office tower. It would be much better to run these programs in a one or two-story building with access to the beautiful outdoors, where participants can see the blue sky, walk in the fresh air and open up to learning in a context that wouldn’t feel at all like “work.”

Floor-to-ceiling whiteboards stand ready to capture thoughts and musings when inspiration strikes in this colorful hallway.
Floor-to-ceiling whiteboards stand ready to capture thoughts and musings when inspiration strikes in this colorful hallway.

How did you help CCL find its new space?

John: We got busy looking for that new home for CCL San Diego. Their landlord was shocked to learn that CCL was not planning to renew its lease. As it turns out, the perfect building wasn’t to be found that time, and we didn’t move CCL. We did renew that lease, at a much lower rental rate because, of course, the landlord got spooked and couldn’t afford to lose CCL as a valuable tenant in the building.

Fast forward twelve years, with the lease scheduled to expire, and we were at it again. Only this time we found the new home, on the bluffs of Torrey Pines Mesa, surrounded by green grass, Torrey Pines and ocean views. This move is the realization of the vision that started back in 2002!

Neatly arranged metal conduits add a functional yet beautiful element to the CCL library.
Neatly arranged metal conduits add a functional yet beautiful element to the CCL library.

Dean, what was your role in this project?

Dean: At Hughes Marino, the construction management team is involved as a key team member and project leader from day one. We worked with John to establish the facility requirements, the anticipated tenant improvement budget and a project timeline. When John found what would ultimately be Center for Creative Leadership’s future home, we were alongside to make sure everyone understood the project scope, what it was going to cost and how long it was going to take. John used this information to make sure that we got what we needed from the landlord, including money and time and terms from the new landlord to accomplish the grand vision of this move.

CCL-conference-room
Meeting rooms named after San Diego landmarks lend a sense of place to the building.

Who else was involved in making the project a reality?

Dean: Credit goes to the entire team, which included Hollander Design Group Principal Jeff Hollander and Lead Architect Viveca Bissonnette, RB Consulting Engineers along with McParlane & Associates to complete the construction documents, and Bycor Construction as the general contractor. It really was a fantastic team, with everyone working together, sharing information and rallying together around the common vision of this new CCL campus. There are a lot of great architects and contractors, and we bring in the best to interview for our clients. As good as you might be, you need to understand this particular client, and they need to know us, and trust us. This is especially true for CCL, who never looks for a vendor, instead looking always for a long-term partner with shared values. We organized the team interviews, brought in great teams in each of the disciplines, and then they picked the team. Every client, on every project, has a different “right” team. This project is a great example of that. I love what I do, and it is never better than when I get to lead a great team, a high-performing team, a dynamic team, a team that understands the client and the project goals, a team that gets it, gets it right and gets it done.

CCL-wall-mural

A custom mural surrounding the central staircase evokes the ocean and nearby glider port.
A custom mural surrounding the central staircase evokes the ocean and nearby glider port.

John: I always tell my clients, “You may like me, but you are going to love Dean and Zane. These are the guys that are going to see this project to the finish line.” Our CM team helps to draft and negotiate the work letter, which is the part of the lease that governs the construction of improvements – who is responsible, what is within the scope and what is outside the scope. Dean and Zane help to hire the right architect partner, the right contractor and the right subcontractors and specialists, as well as all of the furniture, fixtures and equipment, even the moving vans. They also help to navigate building code and permitting issues. When CCL moved in on time, under budget, and saw the realization of all their extensive planning, they really had Dean and Zane to thank.

Cool ocean breezes and panoramic views are the main attraction on the center’s spacious third-floor balcony.
Cool ocean breezes and panoramic views are the main attraction on the center’s spacious third-floor balcony.

Zane, were there any unique challenges on this project?

Zane: This has been on my mind a lot lately. The project has been such a wonderful success and a topic of discussion everywhere we go. I cannot help but think about what makes this project feel so special. At Hughes Marino, our team talks a lot about personal growth, and the need to “Get uncomfortable.” It’s in those uncomfortable moments where we experience growth, both personally and professionally. We don’t grow in our comfort zone, right? John has been through the Center for Creative Leadership program, and so has Jeff Hollander. Maybe that is what made this project different and special. We always strive to understand our client’s business, and the impact of their real estate on their mission and business objectives. In this case, John Jarvis and Jeff Hollander both took the time to get uncomfortable, to learn about themselves and to grow as leaders in the CCL model. And for me, being a part of CCL’s decision team, watching them interact, embrace problems and display resolve, to see them struggle with the hard questions, help them work through each step of the process, and now walk through the amazing workspace that we have collectively created is truly rewarding. I’ll always remember this one.

John Jarvis is a senior vice president of Hughes Marino, an award-winning commercial real estate company specializing in tenant representation and building purchases with offices in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Seattle. Contact John at 1-844-NO-CONFLICT or john@hughesmarino.com to learn more.

Dean Petersen is division president of Hughes Marino, an award-winning commercial real estate company specializing in project management, tenant representation and building purchases, with offices in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Seattle. Contact Dean at 1-844-NO-CONFLICT or dean@hughesmarino.com to learn more.

Zane Keith is a project manager for Hughes Marino Construction Management, an award-winning California commercial real estate company specializing in project management, tenant representation and building purchases, with offices in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Contact Zane at 1-844-NO-CONFLICT or zane@hughesmarino.com to learn more.



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