Mission Valley projects win design awards

Posted: July 20th, 2018 | News, Top Stories | No Comments

By Delle Willett

Two Mission Valley landscape design projects recently won recognition in the bi-annual American Society of Landscape Architects Design Awards: Civita’s Cloud Amphitheatre at Civita Park and the San Diego River Trail-Estuary Segment Enhancement Plan. Both were designed by San Diego-based landscape architecture firm Schmidt Design Group, Inc.

The River Trail-Estuary plan won an Honor Award in the category of planning and analysis. The Estuary Segment of the San Diego River contains a 3.7-mile river trail that stretches through a biologically diverse series of ecosystems from Dog Beach to Sefton Field.

Civita’s Cloud Amphitheater was recognized with a Merit Award for its construction detail by the American Society of Landscape Architects. (Courtesy Schmidt Design Group)

“The plan strikes a delicate yet artful balance between habitat preservation and restoration with the need for the public to have access to, and develop a relationship with, this unique estuarine environment,” said Schmidt Design Group principal-in-charge JT Barr.

Glen Schmidt, principal-in-charge of Civita’s Cloud Amphitheatre at Civita Park, earned a Merit Award in the category of construction detailing. Civita Park is a 16-acre City of San Diego neighborhood park located in the heart of the new community of Civita in Mission Valley.

“The park cascades down the former quarry site and was inspired by the natural and cultural history of the Valley,” Schmidt said. “It creates a focal point for the community as well as a strong greenbelt spine connecting the new multifamily neighborhoods.”

The San Diego River Enhancement Plan was recognized with an Honor Award for planning and analysis. (Courtesy Schmidt Design Group)

The central core of the first phase of the park, which was completed last year, is Celebration Plaza, a large gathering place for concerts, movie nights, farmers markets, and more. The focal point of the plaza is Cloud Amphitheatre, an iconic and unique custom structure for the park designed for shade, group gatherings, and stage performances.

Cloud Amphitheatre is approximately 2,000 square feet and, at its highest point, rises nearly 29 feet above the plaza.

Mission Valley has a long history and close relationship with weather over the centuries. Clouds drift through the Valley, at times bringing rain that feeds the San Diego River as it meanders through the Valley. These drifting clouds were the inspiration for the design of Cloud Amphitheatre. Layers of organic roof shapes cascade as white support posts drop down to the plaza like beams of lights.

Judges for the awards recognized the construction complexities of this project. The team of landscape architects designed the structure, prepared bridging documents, coordinated with a pre-fabrication company, reviewed and approved shop drawings, and provided thorough construction administration.

The estuary segment of the San Diego River in Mission Valley (Photo by Robin Schifflet)

“It was a difficult feature to build and the team spent many hours coordinating with contractors, reviewing mockups and materials, rejecting unacceptable workmanship, and tweaking design details as the construction progressed,” explained Schmidt.

Founded in 1983 by landscape architect and planner, Glen Schmidt, FASLA, Schmidt Design Group, Inc. has provided quality landscape architecture and planning services throughout Southern California and the western United States for the past three decades.

“We are a client-centered, service-oriented small business dedicated to creating signature spaces that reflect the character and vision of the communities in which we work,” Schmidt said.

The firm is headquartered in San Diego with branch offices in Sacramento, California and Orange, Connecticut.

Some of Schmidt’s iconic design projects include Waterfront Park at the County Administration Building, and Stone Brewing and World Bistro in both Escondido and Liberty Station.

—Delle Willett is a public relations consultant and freelance journalist. Reach her at

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