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A Reimagined Courtyard:
The Vine, Irvine, Calif.

by Danielle Cleveland, ASLA, LEED AP BD+C, Urban Design Group Project Designer, LPA Inc., Irvine, Calif.


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"The Vine" is a group of startup companies working collaboratively with Real Office Centers, EvoNexus and the Center of Innovation within the University Research Park complex in Irvine, Calif. To illuminate the gathering lawn for larger festivities three custom tapered event poles were constructed by Valmont Structures. Two 200-watt RGBW (red, green, blue and white) LED floodlights are mounted at the top of each event pole. A DMX (digital multiplexing) controller interface with a touch panel is programmed with different color changing scenes and projector image options. The DMX programming also includes dynamic movements (e.g., spinning images) and pattern zoom capabilities. Eight-watt LEDs uplight the large pepper trees that form the backdrop for the event deck.


The Vine is a half-acre site between buildings 5151 and 5161 California Avenue in Irvine, California that was originally designed by LPA for the Irvine Company in 1998. Editor's note: Irvine is a community in Orange County, about 40 miles south from Los Angeles. Irvine (pop. 250,384) is a 66-square-mile planned community (mostly by the Irvine Company, beginning in the 1960s) of neatly laid out homes and apartments, boasting plenty of green spaces, landscaping and recreational amenities. It was incorporated in 1971. The city's mission statement is to "create and maintain a community where people can live, work, and play in an environment that is safe, vibrant, and aesthetically pleasing."

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The large structural steel framework incorporates custom canopy fabric shades and suspended pendant lights. These pendants contain 8 T5 (tube type) HO (high output) mini bipin, dimmable fluorescent lamps to vary the mood for different activities. The pendants are polyethylene for outdoors durability, including wet conditions (yes, on occasion, rain does fall from the heavens on Southern California).


The Vine was designed as a passive space for use by small groups of tenants with outdoor seating; a contemplative space; a place to relax. The space, however, lacked flexibility, visual connectivity and open areas for larger groups.

The Irvine Company approached LPA in 2014 with an opportunity to repurpose this courtyard and the interior of the 5151 building. They wanted to transform this underutilized space into an amenity that embraces a creative office environment and becomes a direct extension of the surrounding interior workspaces.

The Vine OC, the namesake for the courtyard, is an entrepreneurial community of startup companies working collaboratively with Real Office Centers, EvoNexus and the Center of Innovation. It was formed around a new model that incubator tech companies can develop on the University Research Park complex, while nestled within a contemporary, flexible and collaborative workspace. This goal was to be reflected throughout the indoor office environment; it was apparent that these ideas and goals needed to also extend outdoors.

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An exterior projector was also used for two of the event poles to create interesting patterns on the ground plane. This wet location image projector has eight gobo patterns (templates to control the shape of emitted light), and six dichroic glass color filters. The programming for the projector requires a theatrical console.


The design of the courtyard needed a communal feel, with large gathering spaces connected to the building to let tenants mingle and share ideas. It was also necessary to have smaller work/social spaces further into the courtyard for relaxation and private meetings.

With the way the millennial generation is working and collaborating, and the beautiful climate in Southern California, more emphasis is placed on outdoor workspace than ever before. The old standards of nine-to-five workdays and sitting behind a desk inside all day are shifting. Wi-Fi, AV and Bluetooth connectivity, along with specialty accent lighting allow work to happen outside just as easily, and at all hours of the day. A sound system, roll up doors and shade canopies create a smooth transition from indoor to outdoor spaces. Elements such as a fire pit, BBQ, edible garden, outdoor conference spaces, and movable furniture make the Vine a functional and exciting space for our evolving work/play culture.

As working hours have extended later into the evening, and the desire for an outdoor event space was requested, lighting was instrumental in creating a functional, exciting and safe environment. The design challenge was to create unique spaces with accent lighting that still met the strict Irvine security code, which requires a measurement of one foot-candle of light for all walkways and pedestrian spaces.

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The before image (black and white) of the outdoor space for the business park shows a kind of checkerboard design for the space, but lacking a larger group gathering area. The new design incorporates an open lawn of Marathon II, a dwarf tall fescue that can be mowed short for a compact carpet-like appearance; drought tolerant plantings (e.g., agave, aloe, feather grass, euphorbia, dwarf rush and cherry laurel); and a dense hedge (left) of Ligustrum japonicum 'Texanum' (Waxleaf Privet) to screen the parking lot. The shrub can grow up to 9 feet tall. There are two stained ipe decks with aluminum shade structures; four large cedar raised planters of edible plants; angled DG bands set within the turf; colorful, portable aluminum "stump" seating; a firepit (Hearth Product Controls) next to built-in wood seating; barbeques; and bike racks and trash receptacles (both from Forms+Surfaces). Several mature pepper trees were protected to provide shade and help define the main east/west walkways.


By integrating the lighting and landscape design, our approach was to think beyond the typical post top area lights and use exterior pendants, bollards and event poles to achieve this code compliant one foot-candle requirement. Elegant LED bollards from Louis Poulsen are used to illuminate the primary walkways with low-level lighting that limits distraction to the surrounding spaces.

These 15-watt COB (chip on board) LED fixtures have over 500 lumens with very little uplight, making them ideal for California green compliant exteriors. The shape of the bollard acts as the reflector, a vandal resistant and efficient design. Large accent pendant lights from Marset are suspended from custom shade canopies to define gathering areas and illuminate patios for outdoor work and socializing. These fluorescent pendants contain 8 T5 (tube type) HO (high output) mini bipin lamps that are dimmable to provide mood lighting for different activities. Polyethylene material makes these exterior pendants durable for wet environments. Mini acrylic LED pendant lights (Hevilite) dangle from existing beautiful pepper trees and add sparkle and whimsy to intimate, informal meeting places. These acrylic pendants are 3-watt LEDs with an in-grade remote power supply. Each pendant was strategically located onsite, adding an artistic touch to the lighting. Eight-watt LED uplights (Hevilite) accent the existing large pepper trees that form a backdrop for the event deck. The accent and pathway lighting for this courtyard demonstrate a creative approach to complying with the lighting code, but it is the large event space lighting that ultimately steals the show.

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The strict Irvine security code requires one foot-candle of light for all walkways and pedestrian spaces. One foot-candle (light intensity as perceived by the human eye produced by an ordinary candle one foot away) is equal to one lumen per square foot or approximately 10.764 lux. Foot-candles and lux measure the amount of visible light falling on a surface. The elegant LED bollards that line the primary walkways have 15-watt COBs (chips on board--multi-LED chips packaged together in single lighting modules). This low-level lighting has over 500 lumens (500 lumens is normal level for offices and libraries) with very little uplight, making them ideal for California green compliant exteriors. The shape of the bollard acts as the reflector, a vandal resistant and efficient design.


To illuminate the gathering lawn for larger festivities three event poles constructed by Valmont were used. These poles were manufactured with a custom taper that make them less imposing. Two Luman Pulse 200-watt RGBW (red, green, blue and white) LED floodlights are mounted at the top of each event pole. These are controlled using a DMX interface that allows for dynamic color changing effects. An exterior projector from Martin was used at two of the event poles to create interesting and exciting patterns on the ground below. This wet location image projector has eight gobo patterns and six different dichroic glass color filters. The DMX programming also includes dynamic movements such as spinning images and pattern zoom capabilities. The DMX control interface by Strand Lighting has a touch panel which is programmed with different color changing scenes, as well as the projector image options. The programming for the projector required a theatrical console, which provided a dynamic and creative approach to lighting this large space.

Along with creating an exciting outdoor space, designing with sustainability in mind was just as important. Sustainable landscape design includes finding the right balance of functionality, cost effectiveness and being visually appealing, while using fewer resources. Sustainable landscape solutions for this project included proper selection of drought tolerant plant materials, coupled with good xeriscape practices that reflect current water saving techniques.

Turfgrass was limited to selected areas for visual relief from the adjacent parking lot. Angled decomposed granite bands set within the turf create opportunities for additional seating for large events. Several mature pepper trees were protected to provide shade and help define the main east/west walkways. Four large cedar raised planters are filled with edible plants that can be harvested by the tenants and used for cooking or meal preparation.

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Mini acrylic 3-watt LED pendant lights dangle from the mature pepper trees. Each pendant was strategically located to add an artistic touch to the lighting. The pendants have an in-grade remote power supply. Pennisetum 'Little Bunny' dwarf fountain grass is at left. There are four cedar vegetable/herb garden planters in the courtyard; this one sports thyme, zucchini, squash, bell peppers, basin, cilantro, parsley, chives, lavender and mint.


A collaborative approach to outdoor workspace, creative lighting design and sustainable attributes all contributed to achieving the goal of a safe, exciting and flexible event/work space at the Vine.

About LPA Inc.
Founded in 1965 in Orange, Calif., LPA is now based in Irvine, Calif., but has grown to more than 220 employees, adding three more California offices (San Diego, San Jose, Roseville) and its first out-of-state office (San Antonio). The firm provides architectural, planning, landscape architecture, interior design, engineering and graphic/signage services.

Author Danielle Cleveland, ASLA, LEED AP BD+C, is a project designer for LPA's Urban Design Group. She has contributed to the sustainable landscapes of more than 15 corporate, civic and campus projects. Her degree in landscape architecture is from Ball State University.

Design Team
Landscape Architecture LPA, Inc.
Danielle Cleveland, RLA ASLA
Gus Puertas, RLA ASLA ISA
Bret Hanson, RLA ASLA
Lindsey Hagelberg

Irrigation Design: Sweeney + Associates
Civil Engineering
LPA, Inc.
Kathereen Shinkai
Kenny Hostetler

Electrical Engineering and Lighting Design
LPA, Inc.
Rebecca Ceballos, NCIDQ, LEED BD+C, LC
Jon Dickson
Light Programming Forman and Associates

Structural Engineering:
LPA, Inc., Daniel Wang
Construction Team:
General Contractor
Turelk Inc.

Concrete Contractor
The Bedrock Company
Landscape Contractor
Mission Landscape
Electrical Contractor
Hackney Electric Inc.

Manufacturers
Forms+Surfaces:
- bike racks
- trash receptacles

Hearth Product Controls: fire pit inserts

Valmont Structures: event poles


As seen in LASN magazine, April 2016.






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