An innovative building for a creative community
By Dave Fidlin
More recently, “Live, work and play” has become a common catchphrase used to describe the all-encompassing amenities a community or neighborhood has to offer.
Developers and organizers behind Downtown San Diego’s newest multi-tenant office building say they are using the concept as a guiding principle for the six-story Block D project. It is situated within Makers Quarter, the burgeoning, six-block East Village district noted for its creative ethos and local artists.
“This goes beyond the talk of the ‘live, work, play’ mantra,” said Stacey Pennington, an urban planner intricately involved in Makers Quarter.
Block D, targeted on land at 845 15th St., is one piece of a greater puzzle for a section of East Village that has garnered attention for its visioning process since the heavy lifting began four years ago.
Work on the much-ballyhooed Block D development began in earnest in late May with a groundbreaking ceremony.
A number of community leaders attended the ceremony, including Mayor Kevin Faulconer; Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Commission; Kris Michell, president and CEO of Downtown San Diego Partnership; and Reese Jarrett, president of Civic San Diego.
“This is the kind of forward-thinking, sustainable office space that San Diego needs and businesses can use to attract top-tier employees who want to work in the heart of our city,” Faulconer said in a statement.
Projects preceding Block D within Makers Quarter have included SMARTS Farm, a community garden with an educational component on a previously vacant lot, and 10 Barrel Brewing Co., which has been touted as a family-friendly brewpub.
But Pennington said Block D, the first multi-tenant commercial building to go up in the Downtown area in nearly a decade, takes the Makers Quarter vision to the next level and shepherds future phases.
“Block D is going to be a pivotal part of this neighborhood,” Pennington said. “This is helping fulfill the vision we’ve laid out to create a new employment hub.”
Matthew Porreca is a principal with local architecture firm BNIM, which is overseeing the design of Block D. Porreca said the layout of Block D was crafted with a forward-thinking, 21st-century mindset.
“We’ve been looking at the work place and how office space can be used in a different way,” Porreca said. “We’re planning a more open workplace environment, which oftentimes stirs creativity.”
The interior and exterior designs also have been planned with a nod to Mother Nature.
Porreca said one of Block D’s most notable features is a so-called motorized Venetian blind system that will work in concert with a weather station on the roof of the building. He described the setup as “an active façade.”
“The building will be tuning itself every day of the year, protecting itself from solar light,” Porreca said. “The building is going to have a character to it, and this is going to be a highly sustainable project.”
Block D is one new step in a broader vision Pennington said will be realized in the not-too-distant future. A firm end date for all of the development phases of Makers Quarter has not yet been cast in stone.
In its totality, Makers Quarter’s estimated economic impact on the city is expected to reach $1 billion. Pennington said 1 million square feet of creative office space is pegged for the district. Block D itself will encompass 63,584 square feet.
In keeping with the “live, work and play” mentality, the office space is to be complimented with 800 residential units, 175,000 square feet will be designated for restaurants, retail and entertainment, and 72,000 square feet of public parks and open space will also be included.
“This is all centered around a really thoughtful approach,” Pennington said. “I think we’re going to be able to fulfill the vision we’ve put forth.”
A number of city leaders, including Faulconer, agree. In his statement, the mayor said Makers Quarter has spurred a renaissance in the neighborhood, describing East Village as “one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in San Diego.”
Block D is slated to open in spring 2018.
—Dave Fidlin is a freelance journalist with a special affinity for San Diego and its people. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.