Type: Retail/Commercial/Leisure
Client: Undisclosed
Location: Irvine, CA
Size: 95,000 sqft indoor+ 22 acres outdoor
Design: 2013
Project Architect: Virginie Stolz

We were commissioned to create an attractive, vibrant and contemporary retail/leisure area, centered around an existing warehouse structure. Opposite of the typical strip mall development, the client’s goal is to attract a consumer who appreciates and desires a more dynamic and specific retail experience, anchored by a brewery/restaurant, a marketplace for local produce and food vendors, as well as an outdoor community amphitheater. The scheme is based on a skewed cross-like shape which responds to the scale of the planned neighborhood: one arm is dedicated to retail and is oriented along the East-West axis, while the other is dedicated to entertainment along the North-South axis. The cross is surrounded by an agricultural preserve along Irvine Boulevard, and extends directly into the planned residential area. The main entrance and parking will be placed at the easternmost end of the cross.

The volume of a single retail unit is generated by stacking 2 layers of containers, and rotating/shifting the upper layer. This move creates a very dynamic, multifaceted volume, resulting with large overhangs that create elegant canopies and shading for the retail shops. The rotation of the 2 levels also provides an interesting way of physically and visually
connecting the retail units to each other, forming what essentially becomes a “braid” of retail. This makes the resulting open space very interesting to the eye, offering intriguing and surprising moments for visitors. The retail units are fabricated entirely of used shipping containers that have been sandblasted to uncover the organic patina of the oxidized corten steel. Gradient colors are painted under the cantilevers and the corresponding pavings to accentuate these canopied spaces. The colors are used as a contrasting accent to the natural corten steel, while also providing visual variety along the paths.

Once visitors arrive at the Warehouse, they find themselves in a large open space centered around a communal dining atrium with a water feature. Openings in the ceiling allow natural light to filter into the otherwise dark and cavernous room. The northern portion of the warehouse is designed to house the new 12,000 SQFT brewery/bar/restaurant. The container aspect continues into the warehouse, as a design and functional element: a single sculptural layer serves as a mezzanine area of the brewery. Cutouts in the floating containers offer diners views over the main dining atrium. Glassed-in brewery tanks are designed to be visible from every vantage point in the atrium.

The western exit from the warehouse leads to an outdoor shaded marketplace, while to the south of the Warehouse, the boardwalk ascends to generate seating for a large-scale open-air amphitheater. The area offers a perfect venue for all types of large community and/or family events, from live theater to music concerts, storytelling for children. Additionally, the south warehouse facade would incorporate a large screen to support the projection of evening movies and/or shows. The large amphitheater will have direct access to and from the adjacent parking lot to manage flow of crowds for big events.