The Landmark: Urban Aggregation & Shaping Public Space

Michael Bischoff
Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, New York City

The densification of suburban and semi-urban contexts provides a critical opportunity to fulfill the mandate that tall buildings become “connectors” within the city. CTBUH’s call has particular resonance in Southern California, whose built environment typically favors cars over pedestrians, offering little connectivity. The Landmark, an 800,000-square-foot mixed-use development in Irvine, rises to this challenge by integrating the needs of pedestrian and vehicular traffic within an interactive central space that accepts both modes of transportation as equal and interdependent, rather than opposing, forces. The “collective benefits of urban density” are achieved not only by increasing building heights, but through a process of aggregation that optimizes the relationship between these tall buildings as they shape a multi-layered ground plane.

Such a development requires a lively public realm, and our vision proceeds from the premise that figural space takes precedence over figural volume. We begin by imagining the limits of the site as a solid. Subsequent actions – two subtractive and two additive – divide the property into independent parcels with shared access points that complement the neighboring context. Further operations establish generously scaled public space woven into the surrounding community, while points of programmatic density accommodate the development’s varying uses.

Our design creates a simple, bold, spatial infrastructure, reflecting our belief that the aggregation of increased density within space-positive planning is fundamental to the evolution of suburban and semi-urban environments and their social and commercial success.

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