Landscaping. The Unsung Hero.

Preserving the historic character of the original San Diego Police Headquarters built in 1937 is the paramount focus of the landscape and hardscape design throughout the project. The overall “Landscape Theme” is reflective of the California landscapes of the 1930s.

The new site plan artfully integrates historic features with mature landscape elements and contemporary amenities, and preserves specific details from the original design.  More than 80 percent of the trees and palms have been saved together with two historic water features that had fallen into disrepair but have been restored. The central courtyard maintains the initial pattern of the concrete pavers and shaded seating areas including historic bench details from the 1930s.

The original parking lot located along Harbor Drive is replaced by the “Urban Park” -- a new public space featuring “outdoor rooms” landscaped with seating and night lighting along The Headquarters’ northern boundary. A tree-lined 14-foot wide landscaped concrete promenade provides easy access to the convention center and hotels to the east and Bayfront and Ruocco Park to the west.  It also leads to an expansive semi-circular plaza fronting on West Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway featuring a large fountain and an extensive palette of vibrant color plantings that together set the stage for The Headquarters experience.

Landscaping for Urban Park and other areas features a selection of early California native and indigenous vegetation typically found in early 20th century gardens. Drought-tolerant plants with low water requirements such as agaves, aloes and sedum ground covers are mixed in with native grasses and flowering accents. Small groves of olive and crape myrtle trees along the Urban Walk provide gray-green foliage and flowering color accenting the rich terracotta hue of the buildings.  And visitors can rest and relax in the Walk’s welcoming outdoor rooms that feature casual seating and a collection of contemporary container planters filled with rich succulent, grass and sedum species.

Raised planters within the various courtyards display mature specimen trees including Arbutus also known as Madrone or Madrona -- a tree with red or white highly perfumed flowers that give way to red berries in the fall; California Pepper with its feathery leaves and  Mediterranean Palms with their vibrant green fan-shaped foliage -- “Hero” trees that provide welcome shade for the outdoor seating.

In addition to the preserved historic paving in The Headquarters’ central courtyard, other areas employ new porous concrete pavers that allow for the collection and purification of water run-off.  Featuring accent colors and reflective minerals they are reminiscent of similar paving patterns used in San Diego neighborhoods in the 1930s.  

Each restaurant and retail venue within The Headquarters has worked with the architects to incorporate an expression of their brands and corporate identities that interfaces with the surrounding landscape and hardscape design, preserving the historic character of the buildings’ original architectural style.

The landscape and hardscape programs were created for the rebirth of “The Headquarters” on the San Diego Bayfront by Wimmer Yamada and Caughey. The original design was based on a masterplan developed by Owen Lang and Sasaki Design.