Have you ever wondered about the master planners behind your favorite North County recreation sites? If you’ve walked it, biked it, or sat upon its steps and lingered a while, there’s a pretty good chance you can thank one of these two landscape architect and urban design firms.
Schmidt Design Group
Founded in 1983 by Glen Schmidt, FASLA, the Schmidt Design Group, Inc. balances artistic expression with environmental sensitivity, and has brought us Carmel Valley’s Ocean Air Park, Cottonwood Creek Park in Encinitas, Cardiff State Beach, Carlsbad’s Pine Avenue Park, the access point to Swami’s Beach, the outdoor environments at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens and the San Elijo Lagoon Visitor Center, and the list goes on.
The Solana Beach Coastal Rail Trail Linear Park is part of the larger Rails-to-Trails project that includes bicycle and walking trails from Oceanside to San Diego. Schmidt Design Group, Inc. worked with the City of Solana Beach on the portion of trail that passes through Solana Beach, with a vision of celebrating the “edge between land and sea.” Crescent moon-shaped decks, paving patterns, meadow grasses, trees, and colorful planting bring this concept to life. Interpretive displays highlight the history of Solana Beach, while two community gardens are maintained by local citizens. A gateway, created by local artists, joins additional art and poetry incorporated into the design.
Currently, Schmidt Design Group, Inc. is working with structural engineer firm TY Lin International
on the first of four planned pedestrian rail safety undercrossings in the City of Encinitas. The crossing at Santa Fe Drive is themed “The Sea,” and will artfully incorporate seawalls, concrete pathways, textural retaining walls, curvilinear stairs, and unique “cairn” monuments. The City partnered with SANDAG, North County Transit District, and Caltrans in the planning and funding of the project, with the hopes of completing it by the end of 2012. (www.schmidtdesign.com)
MW Peltz & Associates
Founded in 2001 by landscape architect Michael Peltz, MW Peltz & Associates is located in Solana Beach and embraces the use of low-water-requiring plant material and sustainable design principles. Projects include Sony Electronics headquarters in Rancho Bernardo, Paseo Del Mar in Carmel Valley, and the North Coast Highway 101 master plan in Encinitas. The firm is currently working on the proposed garden improvements for The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe.
MW Peltz & Associates designed Fletcher Cove Park in Solana Beach to tell the story of the Pacific Ocean’s influence on our environment, and to educate people about it being home to thousands of species that thrive in her waters. The needs of the community for a mix of passive and active recreation opportunities, restrooms, a marine-safety center, and parking were considered as the park design began to unfold. A strong line was created from the end of the public street to the building’s edge to lead the eye to the view and away from the parking lot and marine safety building. The firm then created a boardwalk leading from the drop-off plaza at the street out to the edge of the bluff some 30 feet above the ocean’s surface.
The plants, with the exception of turf grass, were selected based on their ability to thrive in a natural ocean bluff setting, and survive on the average amount of rainfall received in Solana Beach. The undulating tops of concrete-set walls along terracing steps simulate ocean waves. And the walls are adorned with quote poems, hand-made ceramic tiles that depict ocean life, and messages from the community to future generations to join in the celebration of the park and its story. The project demonstrates how a public park can be a sustainable asset for the community to enjoy for years to come. (www.mwpeltz.com)
So, this summer, when you head out for a surf, a family beach day, or a sunset coastal stroll, take a moment to pause and appreciate the thought, planning, and design that went into our beloved outdoor spaces. MIA STEFANKO