The Municipal Code can be your Friend

Project Name: Whole Foods Market Shell
Story Theme:   How to use the municipal code requirements to create architecture


The San Diego Municipal Code includes the Mid-City Communities Planned District, which includes several of the older neighborhoods in the city. The plans for those neighborhoods emphasize “pedestrian friendly” developments. After determining that the original building needed to be demolished, our client was interested in meeting the requirements of this district in order to avoid the need for discretionary approval for variances. Here are 3 of those requirements and what we did to meet them.
  1. Offsetting planes
    1. Code diagram
    2. Site plan…note projecting bay windows used in lieu of recesses…more pedestrian friendly and perhaps less appealing to street people
    3. Corner of 7th and University…stair tower helps emphasize corner and creates offsetting planes
    4. Projecting bays on 7th…contrasting colors and textures to cmu walls
  2. Transparency
    1. 7th and University at night…transparency into store along both streets
    2. Bay windows on University…appealing views into the market
  3. Pedestrian access
    1. Street corner entry…prominent and visible
    2. Entry from 7th and parking…trellis provides shade from southern sun
Lessons Learned:
Rooftop Parking 1. Whole Foods needed more parking than was available on grade, and due to the hard, rocky nature of the soil, it was determined that rooftop parking would be more economical. After much research by Jean, we found that the best technical solution was to provide a “sandwich” consisting of a post-tensioned slab on the bottom, a wearing slab on top, and waterproofing in between, but that solution was not cost effective. The most economical solution was to provide a typical parking garage solution, i.e. precast concrete columns and girders, with double tees. Then we added a reinforced concrete slab on top of the double tees for the roof diaphram, and then applied a traffic coating for waterproofing.
Rooftop Parking 2. The Municipal Code also requires landscaping on all surface parking lots, including trees within 30 feet of any parking space. City staff enforces this requirement for rooftop parking also, but for obvious reasons, none of us wanted to plant trees on the roof…even if they were in containers. In lieu of live plants, staff agreed to let us install steel trellis’, which met the intent of the code by breaking up the surface and providing shade.
Zoning Maps. The existing building straddled two lots or parcels, and when the Municipal Code was revised in 1988?, the zoning map was redrawn with a line through the building (at the parcel line) dividing the site into two different zones. If we were to demolish the building, a similar commercial building could not replace it because of the zoning split. City staff recognized this as an error, and worked hard to fix it by revising the map so that the property no longer was a split zone…which allowed our new project to proceed as planned.