Carlsbad, California

An outdoor plaza with diverse places to work and play helps create a community hub

A diverse blend of outdoor public spaces unites a two-building complex of offices, restaurants and retail, creating a vibrant sense of community. The landscape design takes advantage of the coastal climate and makes sustainable water treatment a centerpiece of a people-oriented space. The mix of spaces reflects the client’s goal to develop a sense of a neighborhood, with places to stroll, dine, hang out, meet with colleagues or soak up the sunshine.

The centerpiece of the project’s public gateway is a linear water feature that’s actually a required bio-retention pond. The space is flanked by a succession of weathered steel screens to create an outdoor living room. One side of the water feature is lined with offices, which extend outward with shaded seating alcoves and planters full of drought-resistant native flora. At the opposite side, an entry plaza with amphitheater-style seating and fire pits provides a separate entry experience for the office users.

The central plaza is lined with outdoor restaurant seating areas, marked with large fire pits that act like a central fireplace at a ski resort. At the end of the plaza, a multifunctional lawn area with twinkling lights overhead provides a children’s play area or, with the help of a built-in projector and screen, a backdrop for evening movies. Two freestanding wood structures with hanging chairs and a table is used as garden meeting rooms.

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