Landscape Architecture is one of those professions that enables you to view change in a very physical way. We often live and work and play in the same parks, shopping centers, and neighborhoods that we did as a kid – and they’ll possibly be the same ones we live, work, and play in in the future. Managing Principal, Alex Polen, was born and raised in the Turtle Rock neighborhood in Irvine. He went to University High School and spent many afternoons and evenings grabbing dinner with his family or flipping through the racks at Peer Records hunting for that latest cassette tape to pop into his tape deck at nearby University Center. He’d run over to the nearby shopping center during lunch for a quick slice from Ray’s Pizza or would get dropped off there in the evening to hang out with his friends or catch a movie – as long as his parents would drop him off down the street.
Fast forward to 2013 (and still into 2019) and LandStudio360 has been working on several progressive projects throughout the overall center to continually evolve the design from the original 1980’s architecture – complete with traditional concrete and brick paving and dated landscape – to a refreshed center that has a strong supporting connection to the UCI student population. As the center continues to be redefined a new wave of trendy restaurants and dining patios, outdoor homework and study workstations, campus quad-like seating, and a ton of additional and diverse seating and lounge spaces have been integrated throughout the site. The evolution of the center also caters to the local community with a bustling Trader Joe’s, a new Target concept store, and a soon-to-be refreshed Cinema. The landscape and amenities have been upgraded to contemporary standards with a connective palm tree skyline, vibrant and water conserving mixes of plants, a dynamic shade canopy over the main stage in the central quad, paving saturated with color and warmth, curvilinear seat walls with cove lighting guiding the guests as they meander through the center, and color changing LED lights inset into the pavers that are motion activated.
While this project continues to evolve, LandStudio360 is excited to be a part of the journey. Having the privilege of being an integral part of re-shaping the places we once grew up in gives us an appreciation for what was while pushing our excitement towards what could be. As Landscape Architects, we get to tell stories through our designs that have physical impacts in our communities. When those designs interweave with our personal history’s and become part of our stories going forward is when we feel we’ve made the biggest impact.