Once the site of a large church, this empty site sat unoccupied as a blighted, fenced, dirt lot for nearly 10 years. Jonathan Segal FAIA acquired the site. Through the community review process, the building’s mass and program were developed.
Park and Polk is a mixed-use project with 43 unit residential lofts, 4 very low income affordable units, 7 office studios, and ground floor retail spaces. The dynamic mix of uses throughout the building engages tenants with each other and the street.
When viewing the building from a distance on Washington Street or up and down Park Boulevard, the glass and concrete object stands above the surrounding buildings. Yet when you start to rotate around the building, the bold shape of the ‘H’ floor plan inverts the typical mass-produced donut shaped buildings of suburbia and leaves large voids on the outside. The cube form of the building is retained by bridges seamlessly spanning nearly 80 feet connecting the ‘H’ legs to each other.
This inversion allows for all units to have exterior views and visual connectivity with the street, as well as large outdoor deck areas. Privacy is maintained by careful arrangement of the floor plan for both private and public areas.
The western elevation has thin delicate fins that provide privacy, lighting, heat control and also articulate the façade. When travelling up and down Park Boulevard the building is constantly changing. Light romantically defines different shadow patterns as the sun passes over the vertical fins, appearing first as a solid mass that then breaks apart into individual elements.
Along Park Boulevard, two rows of large trees create a streetscape ready to support active street life. Furthering engaging the pedestrian is ground floor commercial, including the future home of San Diego’s renowned Big Front Door Sandwich Shop. It should be opening its relocated store by September of this year.
At the rooftop, a large common outdoor space and BBQ area are sheltered by olive trees in oversized concrete planters. This space provides building tenants a pleasant place to congregate and get to know each other while enjoying the expansive views in all directions.
Designing a “green” building was a paramount priority for the designers of this project. All of the hallways have natural ventilation and lighting; the building’s core power usage is fully offset by a large solar array that is located on the rooftop; and passive energy savings strategies are incorporated throughout the building. On the north side, a massive above ground planter is dedicated to natural drought tolerant grasses and an olive tree that filters all water that comes into contact with the site.