The Summit at Rancho Bernardo

Rancho Bernardo, California

Bringing connections and life to an aging corporate campus

An outdated collection of large single-story buildings connected by asphalt parking spaces was redesigned into a garden-filled, indoor-outdoor campus where people congregate before, during and after work.

The award-winning landscape redesign began by reclaiming portions of the parking lots in order to unite the campus with a variety of landscaped and programmed spaces. Walkways lined with shade trees were added to the remaining lots, improving pedestrian circulation, and the overall scale of the campus was then broken down into a series of courtyards, giving staff a variety of spaces to meet and socialize. For comfort, even during warm weather, the design includes a variety of canopies to shade shared outdoor spaces.

Summit at Rancho Bernardo’s centerpiece is a new campus hub combining a state-of-the-art gym and a lawn-covered, terraced amphitheater, which provides tenants gathering space, as well as a popular area for exercise. Nearby areas include a bocce court, a putting green, gardens, dining areas, and a multifunctional lawn.

Throughout the project, natural materials and color help define a sense of place. The plaza is bordered with custom-designed gabion walls, with angular rocks perfectly fitting like puzzle pieces in wire boxes stacked for a more organic ambiance. Colorful fabrics were used to attract people to common areas, such as numerous living-room-like arrays of sofas under the canopies as well as barbecue areas. Hardscape was chosen for its high-SRI (Solar Resistance Index) ratings, to help reduce the heat-island effect and the use of a large amount of natural materials such as decomposed granite, stone and deck paving to reinforce the garden feel.

With sustainability a key driver, the project was designed for water conservation. A master plan was created with the goal of expanding irrigation while gaining efficiency to reduce overall use, and bioswales were added to treat rainfall. The same approach applied to plant materials for a site that had previously seen plantings die during drought conditions; after researching soil conditions and plant options, a new array of climate-appropriate native plantings are thriving.

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