This project is another unique development from the Irvine Company in the heart of Silicon Valley. The massive, 30-acre project completed in 2021 consists of a retail center, office campus, and approximately 1,800 apartment units. Six architectural firms, three landscape architectural firms, and an army of consultants all came together to create Santa Clara Square. Our large endeavor consisted of the design and execution of the residential district and retail main street – no small task. The design approach for this project started with a collaborative research effort between EPTDESIGN, The Irvine Company, and MIG based out of Berkeley. As a team we set out on a public perception survey process from potential and current renters in Silicon Valley. Asking a series of inquiries with the hope of providing the ideal residential community for future residents. The primary question being “What does one most value in their residential landscape?” Following several rounds of focus groups and hundreds of online polls, we gleaned valuable data to get to the heart of what a Silicon Valley resident values.
Once an agricultural site, the previous use of the land was predominantly two-story campus office space built in the 1960’s. Typical to development of the era, large buildings were placed at the center of the parcel, with interior landscape courts, perimeter parking, and large landscape berms with mature trees pushed up against the street edges. During our initial site visits and analysis phase, we worked closely with the project arborist (Hortscience/Bartlett Consulting), The City of Santa Clara, and the Irvine Company to identify over 100 trees that were suitable candidates to be either protected in place or transplanted to other locations throughout the site. The existing trees consisted mostly of mature Redwoods, Holly Oaks, Olives, and Sycamores. Following our initial investigation, we then worked with MVE to craft a site plan for the apartment buildings that preserved key tree groves and emphasized a passive and walkable park like landscape. In an effort to reduce waste, we worked with Minka Studio in Oakland to repurpose some of the trees that needed to be removed into benches, bar counters, mantle pieces, and shade structure elements throughout the site. Taking into consideration the Redwoods increased needs for irrigation given the shifting climate and knowing that the recycled water would damage the trees, we designed a split irrigation system that would only provide domestic water for the redwoods, with the rest of the landscape receiving recycled water. Specific plant communities were carefully crafted to provide minimal water use and highlight the natural palette typically found under the existing trees.
Given the sheer scale of the site, we placed heavy emphasis on prioritizing wayfinding and signage. We worked closely with RSM to craft custom signs that showcase the site map attached to a custom, corten steel sign with laser cut pattern of the redwood tree rings.
Working closely with the City of Santa Clara on the public open space, we dedicated four acres of the landscape to public parkland under their jurisdiction. This allowed us the opportunity to eschew fences and gates, allowing the public full access to the central promenade and interior park spaces through a series of interconnected trails and walkways. The landscape focuses on creating a truly interconnected community for work, dining, shopping and recreation.
Architecture offices involved in the design:
April Phillips Design Works (Retail)
3320 Montgomery Drive
Santa Clara, CA 95054
Design year: 2013
Year Built: 2021