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01-23-20 | Feature

Modern Workspace Campus

by Lynn Capouya and Lissa Moon, Lynn Capouya Inc.

Landscape architecture firm, LCI, was tasked with transforming the outdoor areas of the old San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper offices into a 340,000 square-foot creative office complex. For the central courtyard, unofficially titled 'The Riverlands,' the design team took inspiration from the adjacent San Diego River and gave it an organic river-like flow that winds through the space. This theme is enhanced through a central spine of linear pavers broken by planting islands with seat walls reflecting landforms found within the river itself. A connection is planned for a future river trail phase.
Outdoor work spaces flank the courtyard adjacent to tenant offices while a larger central social space is provided with cafA(C) tables and generously sized wood lined seat walls. The plant palette conveys an artistic architectural feel with sculptural succulent massing and specimen trees.
An overview of the restored buildings frame a Central courtyard as one enters the site. Pedestrian walkways and outdoor conversation areas with bench seating, include a drought tolerant plant palette of canopy shade trees, grasses, succulents and seasonal color creating visual layers of interest through variations in color, texture, size and shapes.
The Press Building courtyard, unofficially entitled 'Press City' has an urban industrial character, but linear pavers and raised edges delineate a modern flow on the ground plane and direct movement within the space. A steel edge elevates up from the ground plane and curves around the planter as a gesture to the ampersand symbol's swooping form. Additionally, the raised planter provides space for sculpture or reused industrial elements from the press building's history.
A variety of spaces provide tenants with opportunities for outdoor work, relaxation, or fun. The plant palette is a mix of drought tolerant California friendly materials; grasses mixed with agaves, accent trees, and colorful sensory plantings.
This poured-in-place concrete bench is topped with Ipe wood. The purple ground cover is Tradescantia pallida, which is commonly known as "purple heart."
Inspirational sayings found throughout the project (here affixed to the base of the bench and inlaid into the pavement) were the work of the project's architect. The outdoor work areas, which were old loading dock spaces, are set apart by COR-TEN steel panels.
The walkway pavers are reminiscent of a river walk, flanked by colorful sensory species including ornamental grasses mixed with agave and succulents to create diversity for sustainable landscape management. Pedestrian lighting along the walkways add a safety aspect to one's movement while walking at night.
The raised metal planters and concrete benches with wood seats complement the industrial river theme. Shade trees soften the edges and foster environmental quality, providing some relief as the buildings meet the ground plane.
The interpretive murals on the Press Building are by Los Angeles artist, John Park.
A respite area inspires socialization opportunities for casual working, eating, waiting and gathering.

This unique project, located in San Diego, is a re-imaging of the iconic SD Union-Tribune newspaper offices and printing press into a 340,000 square-foot creative office complex. In collaboration with Wolcott Architecture, the project's architect, LCI developed a story for the site design that connects our client's vision with the Union-Tribune's rich history, San Diego River, trolley, and trail system. The landscape scope area encompassed over 3.5 acres of outdoor spaces and planting within an overall site area of 14 acres.

LCI themed the central courtyard, entitled The Riverlands, as an abstract connection to the adjacent San Diego River and local outdoor culture. It has an organic 'river-like' flow which stretches from south to north ends and winds through the parking spine with a connection planned for a future river trail phase.

The press building courtyard was previously where the U-T printing press machine operated and has been aptly themed after this use. Entitled, Press City, this courtyard has an urban industrial character with a modern flow, abstracting the stories rolling off the printing spools and into the community. It also features two large murals by John Park, a painter from nearby Los Angeles. The interpretive works aim to connect the area's history with the present according to Jennifer Van Grove of the San Diego Union Tribune, which is now located downtown.

A variety of spaces provide tenants with 64,000 square feet of outdoor collaborative space for working, socializing, gaming, relaxing, and reflecting. This includes nine patios, an outdoor multifunctional amphitheater, an 8,000 square-foot, indoor-outdoor fitness center, electronic vehicle parking, bikes for all tenants and additional areas between the buildings and along the San Diego River. On the top level of one of the towers are large outdoor patios made with ultra-lightweight concrete.

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An old driveway that ran between two buildings has been turned into an expansive courtyard with room for people to work. And a 12-foot-wide footpath bisects the 13-acre site, leading from the courtyard to an area near the river being developed as a park by the San Diego River Park Foundation.

Located in the historic Mission Valley, which is reportedly going through a renascence, the plant palette is a mix of drought tolerant California friendly materials; grasses mixed with agaves, accent trees, and colorful sensory plantings. Additionally, portions of the landscape provide a mix of culinary plantings and fruit trees to complement a future craft cafA(C) and/or restaurant.

The entire overhaul of the buildings and surrounding grounds was reported to cost $40 million. October 11, 2018 was the official ribbon cutting for the new office campus. It was attended by Casey Brown and John Kenney, principals of the project's commercial development company the Casey Brown Company, which bought the property in 2015.

In a press release, Brown stated, "AMP&RSAND is a historic location, reimagined for the demands of the modern workforce. We thoughtfully developed an innovative campus that offers a high-end lifestyle experience, indoor-outdoor spaces, an exercise facility, luxury business amenities - while preserving the historical aspects of the San Diego
Union-Tribune."

One of its first tenants was Mexican fast-casual chain Qdoba. Tim Welsh, the restaurant brand's vice president of real estate and development commented, "The Ampersand building is an iconic San Diego location, and we're thrilled to make this the official home for Qdoba's new headquarters."

And Matt Carlson, the senior vice president of CBRE, which is handling the leasing of the building, told Ray Huard of the San Diego Business Journal, "It's such a prominently located building, you get a nice view all the way around. It's not something that we could ever create from scratch with the character that's there. It's just unbelievably unique."

Team List
Owner: The Casey Brown Co.
Lead Design Firm: Wolcott Architecture
General Contractor: C.W. Driver
MEP Engineer: McParlane & Associates
Electrical Engineer: Michael Wall Engineering
Structural Engineer: Coffman Engineers
Landscape Architect: Lynn Capouya, Inc.

As seen in LASN magazine, January 2020.

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