A once-dull office park is transformed into a lush and cohesive oasis.
The planners who updated The Summit Rancho Bernardo, a 105-acre corporate campus northeast of downtown San Diego, were charged with renovating this complex of commercial/office buildings. Their plan included providing tenants and their employees with new campus amenities, as well as creative areas of green spaces for gatherings and outdoor activities. The campus, located on a plateau surrounded by picturesque natural rocks, rich earth tones and vegetation, has a view of Cowles Mountain, a familiar summit characterized by warm shades of soil and rock. With parking lots interspersed around the buildings and landscaping in need of a redo, the challenge was to improve the look of the campus while adding elements and activity spaces that reflect the beauty of the native topography.
Adding an employee fitness center and outdoor eating and recreation areas were a priority, so the planners identified a building that formerly housed mechanical equipment as the ideal location. Built on a crest, the building’s surrounding land required a combination landscape and hardscape that would accomplish multiple objectives: 1) cost-effectively provide an attractive way to manage a naturally occurring slope; 2) complement the master plan; 3) ensure the outdoor space has the elements needed for recreational enjoyment; and, 4) serve as a partition to screen the parking areas and define the space.
Working in collaboration with DES Architects + Engineers of Redwood City, CA, the landscape designer, Lastras de Gertler (LdG) Landscape Architects of San Diego, knew they would need a hardscape system that could be assembled in various configurations and serve multiple functions. The team also included Level 10 Construction and BrightView Landscape Development, both of San Diego.
Rocio Gertler, principal of LdG, and the team, turned to gabion-style wire containers from McNICHOLS that created a partition and divider system. The company's ECO-ROCK containers were filled with angled rocks harvested from a local quarry. Assembled along the slope outside the fitness center, the system became the basis for amphitheater-style seating and an outdoor extension of the fitness center. Hand-filled by BrightView with indigenous rocks, the containers in the amphitheater are capped with Ipe wood and installed in varying heights and depths along the lawn and platform steps. Along walkways, the ECO-ROCK containers were filled with patio stones larger than those in the amphitheater. In the outdoor eating area, the product was applied to the front of a dining counter as a way to repeat the rock design feature throughout the amenity area. Gertler said cost efficiency was a key factor in choosing ECO-ROCK. “We wanted a design that could bring down the expense of the grounds,” she said. Gertler added, “We like that ECO-ROCK is a system. We knew we would need to use the material in different ways, so we wanted a system with different sizes and functions.” Howard Jeng of DES Architects + Engineers says the new campus design, combined with added glass elements to the buildings, turned a once monolithic-looking concrete setting into an aesthetically pleasing office park home.