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ECO-ROCK® Anchors Campus Amenities at The Summit Rancho Bernardo

Rocio Gertler and team turned to McNICHOLS ECO-ROCK® to update The Summit Rancho Bernardo corporate campus near downtown San Diego.

 |  4 min read

The Hole Objective

The planners who updated The Summit Rancho Bernardo, a 105-acre corporate campus northeast of downtown San Diego, were charged with renovating this complex of commercial/office buildings. Their plan included providing tenants and their employees with new campus amenities, as well as creative areas of green spaces for gatherings and outdoor activities. The campus, located on a plateau surrounded by picturesque natural rocks, rich earth tones and vegetation, has a view of Cowles Mountain, a familiar summit characterized by warm shades of soil and rock. With parking lots interspersed around the buildings and landscaping in need of a redo, the challenge was to improve the look of the campus while adding elements and activity spaces that reflect the beauty of the native topography.


Adding an employee fitness center and outdoor eating and recreation areas were a priority, so the planners identified a building that formerly housed mechanical equipment as the ideal location. Built on a crest, the building’s surrounding land required a combination landscape and hardscape that would accomplish multiple objectives: 1) cost-effectively provide an attractive way to manage a naturally occurring slope; 2) complement the master plan; 3) ensure the outdoor space has the elements needed for recreational enjoyment; and, 4) serve as a partition to screen the parking areas and define the space.  

Working in collaboration with DES Architects + Engineers of Redwood City, California, the landscape designer, Lastras de Gertler (LdG) Landscape Architects of San Diego, knew they would need a hardscape system that could be assembled in various configurations and serve multiple functions. The team also included Level 10 Construction and BrightView Landscape Development, both of San Diego.

The Hole Solution

Rocio Gertler, principal of LdG, and the team, turned to McNICHOLS ECO-ROCK®. The gabion-style wire containers created a partition and divider system that is custom-filled with angled rocks harvested from a local quarry. This Wire Mesh and frame grid system can be integrated into seating, partitions, and decorative features. Assembled in container-style arrangements along the slope outside the fitness center, the system became the basis of LdG’s plan for amphitheater-style seating that also became an outdoor extension of the fitness center. Hand-filled by BrightView with indigenous rocks, ECO-ROCK®in the amphitheater is capped with Ipe wood and installed in varying heights and depths along manicured lawn grass and platform steps.

ECO-ROCK® as amphitheater seating
ECO-ROCK® as amphitheater seating. Photo credit ©Mike Torrey

ECO-ROCK® is also highlighted in other areas of the campus in addition to the platform steps. Along walkways, ECO-ROCK®can be seen filled with patio stones larger than those in the amphitheater seating. In the outdoor eating area, ECO-ROCK® is applied to the front of a dining counter as a way to repeat the rock design feature throughout the amenity area.

ECO-ROCK® defines space
ECO-ROCK® defines space. Photo credit ©Mike Torrey

Gertler said cost efficiency was a key factor in LdG’s choice of landscape and hardscape material, “We wanted a design that could bring down the expense of the grounds,” she said.  

“To make it personal and add interest, we wanted to create a place of plantings, hardscape, and furniture,” she said. “We wanted a scenario that was rustic and, with the mountain view, we wanted to bring natural materials into the plan and introduce it in an artistic way.”

“We like that ECO-ROCK® is a system,” said Gertler, noting that “we knew we would need to use the material in different ways, so we wanted a system with different sizes and functions.”

According to Howard Jeng of DES Architects + Engineers, the newly designed amenities on the campus combined with the addition of glass elements to the buildings, turned a once monolithic-looking concrete setting into an aesthetically pleasing office park that is the home to technology companies and light industrial tenants. The redesigned entrance and patio areas helped better define the entry point, as well as the various parts of the campus, he said.

Completed in 2016, the project earned the 2017 Orchid Award for Landscape Architecture from the San Diego Architectural Foundation.

ECO-ROCK® as screening wall
ECO-ROCK® as screening wall. Photo credit ©Mike Torrey

McNICHOLS® WIRE MESH, ECO-MESH®, Galvannealed, Powder Coated Textured Black, Woven - Intercrimp Weave, 1" x 1" Mesh (Square), 0.0852" x 0.0852" Opening (Square), 0.148" Thick (9 Gauge) Wire Diameter, 73% Open Area

Project Team

  • Project Address − 16550 West Bernardo Drive San Diego, CA
  • Project Owner/Developer −Jay Paul Company, San Francisco, CA
  • Project Architect − DES Architects + Engineers, Redwood City, CA
  • Project Landscape Architect: Lastras de Gertler (LdG) Landscape Architects, San Diego, CA
  • General Contractor: - Level 10, San Diego, CA
  • Landscape Construction – Brightview Landscape Development, San Diego, CA
  • ECO-ROCK®Supplier − McNICHOLS CO., Tampa, FL
  • Rock Supplier – Southwestern Boulder and Stone, San Diego, CA
ECO-ROCK® Anchors Campus Amenities at The Summit Rancho Bernardo
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