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The Point of Interest

Flowing Fountains in El Segundo, California

by by Lifescapes International, Inc.

The Point of Interest

This intricate fountain, designed by Lifescapes International, Inc., combines water, fire and plant life. It serves as the center of interest for The Point, a retail space in El Segundo, California.
Photo credit: Eric Figge

The Point is a boutique, retail and restaurant destination situated on an 11-acre site, in El Segundo, California. It opened in July 2015, with 115,000 square feet of shopping, dining and entertainment options. 5,912 square feet of the site are reserved for outdoor seating.

People Place
Guided by the vision of their client, Federal Realty Investment Trust, Newport Beach-based landscape architectural firm, Lifescapes International, Inc., designed all of the landscaped areas for this project including entries, perimeter slopes, central plaza, walkways, decks and two water features that stand out as the stars of the space. Federal Realty's goal with this property was to create a lifestyle shopping center that had a central park-like destination within a neighborhood.

The Point of Interest

The fountain's concrete basin acts as a seat wall and allows onlookers to lean out over the fountain.
Photo credit: Federal Realty Investment Trust

With this in mind, Lifescapes International designed a community-driven "people place" to encourage visitor interaction, utilizing desirable aspects like a foosball table, outdoor living room environments and much more in a park-like setting. This is a reflection of the nearby residents' desire for access to an enjoyable place to shop, eat, play and simply to congregate with one another.

According to Mike Meyers, senior project director for the landscape at The Point, "The challenge we had to overcome was creating a space that was different than all the other retail centers nearby and make it a destination. We asked ourselves, 'Where would we want to spend the day?'"

The Point of Interest

The second water feature at The Point creates a "wall," separating areas of the center without shutting them off completely from each other. Five concrete bowls seem to float on top of the water.
Photo credit: Eric Figge

Adjacent to the central park is a large, round fountain situated near outdoor seating. It serves as sound buffer for the adjacent traffic, and it is also the center's focal point and a cooling element in the hot season. It has water spouts at a variety of heights and a bowl in the center with a fire element in it.

Seating is anchored nearby to allow visitors to enjoy the view, and it is a 360-degree experience that onlookers can see from all angles. There is stone cobble at the bottom. To prevent people from picking up the stones and throwing them, the stones in the first three feet from the edge are cemented down.

The Point of Interest

The light poles behind fountain were reclaimed from a former street plaza, reconditioned and refitted for The Point.
Photo credit: Greg Scaffidi

According to Collette Navarrette, the director of marketing at Federal Realty Investment Trust, the central fountain has become the main meeting and congregating point for many visitors at The Point. "It differentiates the space from other retail centers, and it really makes the place feel special." The fountain was constructed by Condor, Inc., a local aquatic feature contracting company.

To appeal to residents who live their lives in the warm weather of California, shade and comfort are "must-have" offerings for a successful property. Federal Realty Investment Trust and Lifescapes International considered these shaded environments through a combination of pedestrian pathways adjacent to restaurants and shops, trees, umbrellas, fire pits, benches, specialty pottery and another custom-designed recirculating water feature nearby a restaurant patio. This water feature contains a long, narrow fountain with five "bowls," each containing queen sego palms and succulents inside. The raised portion is made of stainless steel, and the bowls are made of concrete. This fountain acts as a natural wall, separating the space between the restaurant patio and passersby.

The Point of Interest

The bowls contain succulent species such as Macrozamia, Mexican snow balls and senecio, as well as queen sego palms. Lifescapes used 20 submersible display lights at 75 watts to light the feature.
Photo credit: Eric Figge

A study conducted by Macerich, a real estate investment trust that invests in shopping centers, found that shoppers spend an average of $25 more per visit at centers with interactive water features, so water features are not just beautiful to look at and relaxing to hear, but they are good business. These "wow" factors draw guests in and increase foot traffic with longer lengths of stay.

Suitable Space
Lifescapes knows that consumers are now looking for an all-immersive, delightful experience, and the landscape environment that they designed plays a significant, if not an essential role, in delivering this experience. In order to create this special garden environment, Lifescapes International intentionally and creatively integrated a balance of drought-tolerant, sculptural varieties (with pockets of color) consisting of well over 30 different types of trees; 600 of them ranging in height from 10 to 30 feet; some 72 varieties of blooming and evergreen shrubs (35,000 of them) with vibrant and fragrant characteristics that tap into all of the five senses.

The Point of Interest

There are 29 submersible lights in the central fountain, all 75 watts.
Photo credit: Eric Figge

Rich in shape and texture, many of the plants have sculptural and artistic foliage that complement the architectural style of The Point. Also, the designers worked closely with ownership to negotiate the placement of mature trees so that the retail signage remained in balance with the garden intent.

"We located and tagged the significant trees and palms very early at the onset of the project," explained principal and field art director, Berj Behesnilian. "We took into consideration the specific requirements for each tree at its final planting location. The species, water requirements, form and branch structure of each tree was considered very carefully during the selection, while keeping in mind the architecture, signage and views of each area. At the time of planting, there was special attention to art direct the exact position and 'face' of each tree to feature the best character of the tree and enhance guest experience in the area."

The Point of Interest

Lifescapes decided to use a linear tile option to pull the eye down into the fountain and create a rhythm of color along the perimeter. The color the designers chose for the tiles was garden inspired. The glass tiles are 1" x 6" in the colors "Whisper Green," "Olive Oil," "Kinetic Khaki" and "Blue Lagoon."
Photo credit: Greg Scaffidi

The expansive 40,000-square-foot programmable lawn area was designed to be used frequently, and it is. The site sees near-constant action, with several scheduled events like a summer music series, community yoga and a monthly Kid's Club complete with a stilt walker, balloon twisting, face painting, live entertainment and more.

"Outdoor living rooms" add to the sense of community by providing areas for socialization, where shoppers can stop and relax. Guests want to stay to experience the urban vibe of the area that blends with a casual beach atmosphere, creating dynamic spaces throughout the project to entertain, surprise, delight and transform. "Our goal was to create a series of evolving garden rooms," said project designer, Al Amador. "Making a big space more intimate for people was a major challenge and using the landscape to break down these spaces seemed the logical solution."

The Point of Interest

A foosball table and seating area were placed on Ipe decking in a central location in the park area, with visibility of the children's play space.
Photo credit: Eric Figge

Federal Realty also hand-picked several vintage elements to sprinkle around the site to add an "eclectic" touch. These items included two cast iron antique light posts, a carved stone sculpture and an old park bench. A unique way-finding sign with surfboards and skateboards also point the wayward surfer in all of us to surf spots around the world. The idea was to deliver an environment that retail and restaurant visitors could get "lost" in safely and enthusiastically enjoy - and enjoy so much they will be excited to return to again and again.

Team List
Lifescapes' Design Team:
Landscape Concept: Donald Brinkerhoff, FASLA, Chairman and CEO
Designer: Alvaro (Al) Amador, ASLA, Project Designer
Project Manager: Mike Meyers, Senior Project Director
Field Services: Berj Behesnilian, ASLA, Principal / Field Art Director
Horticulture Specialist: Roger Voettiner, ASLA, Executive Senior Principal / Vice President Horticulture
Production: Cindie Nguyen, Landscape Designer

The Point of Interest

A buddha garden in front of the main fountain features an art piece that the design team picked out with the help of the owner of The Point from an antique store. The wind screen behind the garden is made from glass, so as not to obstruct the view. The garden's trees and plants include King palm triple trunks, variegated ginger, bromeliads and ornamental pears.
Photo credit: Eric Figge

Architect: Architects Orange
Landscape Contractor: Valley Crest
General Contractor: Snyder Langston
Project Manager: MPA
Lighting: Oculus Light Studio
Fountain Contractor: Condor Inc.
Irrigation: RRG Irrigation Design

As seen in LASN magazine, July 2019.

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September 21, 2019, 9:15 am PDT

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