American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2005 Professional Awards
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At first glimpse, an Oasis of date palms entices the visitor on the path to the main entry. A Moorish inspired fountain dances in the dappled light under the living trellis, providing an intimate space with seating at the Main Courtyard (photo: Cris Costea).
Graphic Site Plan illustrating the north-south connections from street corridor to the campus interior, and the east-west continuity of the ground plane from the exterior Promenade into the interior lobby (photo: Gareth Loveridge, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd).
An early conceptual sketch highlights the Promenade, which is the East-West spine weaving the ‘Garden Rooms’ via connections along its axis. Journey along the promenade facilitates the merging of the interior and exterior spaces through the campus, as the separate courts hinge off of the U and L shaped buildings (drawing: Rich Bienvenu).
The geometry of the landscape forms and paving patterns in the main courtyard carve out small outdoor niches for respite. Buxus hedges, Tipu trees, and grass tapestries in concert with the hardscape reinforce the directional movement through the space (photo: Cris Costea).
The use of sand blasted concrete and pre-cast concrete pavers create texture and color in the impressive ‘all hands’ gathering space; the largest garden room at the South campus. The proximity to the Main Courtyard and transitional spaces show how scale and pattern link the many garden rooms (photo: Chris Crostea).
An almost atrium like space, the Garden Court is punctuated by the promenade and is a space filled with lush planting consisting of Quercus agrifolia, Plantanus racemosa trees, which create intimate, shaded seating areas beneath. This room allows easy access to the landscape from the interior offices (photo: Chris Crostea).
The promenade engulfs the visitor in a living wall of vines and steel that provide lush greenery and an interesting play of shadow and texture. The rhythm of the trellis reflects the module of the architectural façade allowing for windows and view ports into the courtyard space; this assists with the integration of inside/outside and blurs their distinction, much like Moorish porticos (photo: Cris Costea).
The intimate scale of the break out spaces combine drought tolerant planting along with textures and colors provide a Mediterranean atmosphere, which is unique to corporate campuses (photo: Cris Costea).

Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., South Campus, Torrance, CA
LPA, Inc. , Irvine, CA

"Compelling and convincing . . . significant, strong composition . . . wide range of feelings and experiences . . . plants are rich and diverse . . . water use is very important, particularly in Southern California."

— 2005 Professional Awards Jury Comments

The Design of Toyota Motor Sales’ (TMS) South Campus landscape was based on a modern interpretation of Moorish Garden Design, the weaving of interior and exterior spaces creates ‘garden rooms’ that are an extension of the work environment. The South Campus Office Development consists of two new buildings in a 40-acre site, within a total master planned campus of 135-acres. The 624,000 square feet of office space is housed in three-story buildings surrounded by lush garden landscape.

The program from the client was to reunite their associates from rented, off-site space and build a southern extension to their existing campus, thus centralizing their operation into a high-quality campus facility, at a cost less than the average office lease. TMS operates under a Global Earth Charter, which makes sustainable design a priority. The challenge was to place modest, efficient building ‘pods’ in a sustainable landscape that functions with the buildings’ interior uses, while attaining U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, LEED® gold certification.

The client had a unique proposition: The landscape was to become the focus of the site with the line between landscape and architecture dissolving to create a remarkable synergy. TMS wanted to humanize the large scale of the project by making the exterior accessible. To provide a unique experience, exposure to the landscape is maximized which promotes the associates’ encounters with the landscape through the daily arrival, via office views, and as respite in the ‘garden rooms’. Open space becomes a sequence of experiences one encounters as they move through the site. Planning produced the development of ‘U’ & ‘L’ shaped buildings, which created a strategic circulation spine that connects campus functions via outdoor gardens and courts.

The design vocabulary, planting palette, and outdoor spaces unite the existing campus with the new southern portion of the campus, while providing way-finding to help link all departments together. These spaces are accessible to pedestrians and allow for multiple functions to occur. The gardens throughout the campus are designed for active and passive uses and provide an environment that focuses on the associates’ access to the grounds. The gardens are also devoted to the use of scale and climate; they were designed to be pedestrian scale, easily accessible, and distinguished by simple, orderly outdoor rooms.

Each of the offices in all of the buildings looks into a garden space. Each garden is accessible to the associates and is specifically designed to provide accompanying break-out space and allow for traditionally indoor activities to be brought outdoors. These courtyards were developed to reflect distinct needs, which are accomplished with unique furnishings to support the program.

The Main Courtyard is a formal space for campus events, celebrations, and functions. Located near the campus café, it also features a grove of Date Palms, which represents a California oasis. A large fountain provides the background for a stage, which greets the visitor while influencing microclimate and provides a gentle sound. Along with the water feature, a grid of palms form a living trellis and creates dappled light. The plaza north of the main entrance is used by executives to deliver periodic addresses to Toyota associates and for ‘all hands’ gatherings. Tents can also be installed on the plaza for special events. This courtyard was equipped with provisions for power, water, audio, visual, and event lighting.

The Garden Court is a densely planted scent and visual garden with mature Oak and Sycamore trees for contemplative respite from nearby offices. Surrounded on three sides by building offices, associates have a birds-eye perspective of the garden’s geometric forms and texture, inspired by Moorish tile patterns, for visual interest. It functions as a space for more intimate department events and celebrations with provisions for power, water and event lighting.

The Themed Garden is a Japanese inspired linear courtyard with multiple bamboo species such as Bambusa v. Buddha’s Belly, Babmusa v. Vittata, Painted Bamboo, and Pleioblastus Fortunei (Carpet bamboo). The bamboo, combined with a gravel Zen garden, represents Toyota’s Japanese origins. Only steps away from internal offices, this space provides for rejuvenation and escape from the daily routine.

The Campus Garden is an outdoor space for group activities and impromptu office meetings in an outdoor environment. It consists of a California Pepper tree grid with café tables and chairs organized around small turf panels.

The entire site is connected on an east-west axis via the Promenade. Providing an organizing element and collector for parking lot traffic to all buildings, the promenade is a pathway lined with flowering cherry trees and accent planting. Metal portals anchor the ends of the spine directing pedestrians towards the building’s entrances.

The Arrival Courts utilize geometric patterns in landscape and paving which demarcate the main entry and visitor’s drop off. These are functional gateways for the vehicular arrival sequence and connect to the main courtyards and plazas. The arrival courts provide exterior spaces at major building entries with seating, bike racks and a campus shuttle stop. They feature potted grasses such as pennisetum setaceum and pennisetum s. ‘rubrum’, with permeable paving via decomposed granite.

The South Campus’ landscape design was one of the most important features of the site planning. The landscape architecture reflects the campus’ relationship to California’s environments through symbolic references to redwood forests, native oak chaparral, and urban parks. The abundance of landscape, and particularly the many trees, represents Toyota’s commitment to the environment. The design of each courtyard is complemented by a regional approach inspired by the site’s Mediterranean climate, creating spaces that make people feel comfortable. The use of native and drought tolerant species was extensively incorporated in the plant palette. By using a wide range of scales in the courtyards, the use of native and drought tolerant material was balanced with more traditional ornamental material in certain spaces. This relegation of different elements based on scale and use in the landscape, meant that material with higher water demands could be selectively used as “jewelry” to suit TMS’ goals and landscape functions, while the goal of reduction in irrigation water use was still attained. The irrigation design implemented extensive use of drip irrigation, and when coupled with recycled water, the campus demand for potable water was reduced by more than 50%. California’s Mediterranean climate was complimentary to a Moorish planting palette. Through scale of spaces and variety of plant materials, a distinct identity was achieved for each garden space. The fountains and lush vegetation aided in giving human scale and regulating the temperature of both the gardens and the buildings while setting up interesting glimpses and views.

The client elected to pursue LEED® certification to reduce its impact on the environment. When it opened on Earth Day of 2003 in Torrance, California, it was the largest private facility in the United States to receive a LEED® Gold Certification. Approximately 80 percent of all building materials used in construction contained recycled content; landscapes utilized recycled plastic edging and Polysiteã lumber. Structural and reinforcing steel used on-site was made almost entirely from recycled automobiles. A unique solution to recycle the temporary concrete casting slabs for the ‘tilt-up’ concrete walls was to crush and grind up the concrete and reuse it as sub-base for on-site parking lots. The larger pieces of the broken casting slab were later recycled as accent paving at the outdoor courts, the joints were filled with either decomposed granite or groundcover planting.

Existing on-site soil has very high clay content, making site drainage difficult requiring extensive soil amendments to support the use of drought tolerant plants. The site’s highly expansive soil required the use of geotechnical moisture sensors on the irrigation controllers to regulate water. The project was planned and designed to generate long-term life cycle operation savings, ‘Green’ elements such as reclaimed water usage for irrigation system, plumbing, and cooling were employed. The client installed a vast amount of landscaping, greatly reducing the solar heat load on the building without radiating heat into the atmosphere, thus reducing the ‘heat island’ effect on the building’s microclimate.

Pedestrian and vehicular circulation had a direct impact on site design and LEED® certification. The South Campus circulation system separates pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and isolates deliveries and recycling pick-up routes from the rest of campus traffic. The pedestrian circulation system was integrated into the campus wide landscape design to encourage walking rather than short car trips between different campus buildings. A decomposed granite jogging trail, based on the concept of an oak woodland trail, encircles the south campus and ties into the existing North Campus, strengthening the project’s direct relationship with the rest of the campus, and completing a campus-wide loop. A walkway with canopy trees and 12 relocated 132” box Sequoia trees provide direct pedestrian links to the main campus. In all, over 26 Sequoia trees were saved from demolition due to new construction, and transplanted on-site for the new design. The concept of reducing fossil fuel consumption was also supported by the careful selection of shrub materials and the judicious use of turf areas, thereby reducing green waste, and the need for fuel-consuming mowers and maintenance equipment. The project team delivered the project on time and within budget while embracing all LEED® practices, methodologies, and commissioning.

The underlying theme of the Moorish gardens was instrumental in achieving TMS’ goal of social sustainability. The design style of creating small intimate courts and large gathering spaces provided TMS with spaces that are functional and vibrant. The variety of outdoor spaces takes into consideration all of the associates’ needs for interaction, quiet seclusion, and connection to nature. The traditional Moorish gardens were designed as much for function as well as beauty. TMS sought to provide these elements in their courtyards for physical and mental well being for their associates.

The goal of TMS at the South Campus was to blur the line between outdoor and indoor space and provide functional restorative spaces. The Campus has focused on portraying the corporate ideals of responsibility in the environment while creating a more sustainable environment for their associates.




Within the Themed Garden, small seating areas give the feeling of being completely secluded from office environment and provide an emersion in nature. Only steps away from the office spaces, the associates can leave the rigors of the daily office routine (photo: Cris Costea).
By utilizing bamboo groves, dry gravel gardens, and stone paving, the design integrates the quality of a Japanese garden to celebrate and represent Toyota’s Japanese origins (photo: Chris Crostea).
The rough statuesque ‘Basalt Columns’ are the predominant feature and a meditative element, set in black pea gravel at the bamboo garden. The soothing nature of this garden is conveyed to the associates through the visual connection from the surrounding offices (photo: Cris Costea).
A decomposed granite walking and jogging trail was fashioned after a woodland meadow. The associates often stroll along the trail during lunch and observe the seasonal plantings, which were selected to provide year-round color, scent and kinetic movement (photo: Cris Costea)
The desire for sustainability and the focus on landscaped "rooms" created unique opportunities to provide a corporate client with spaces more reminiscent of a private garden. Here, broken concrete from the tilt-up building’s casting slabs were recycled as decorative paving, while also contributing to the projects LEED® Gold certificate (photo: Cris Costea).
Among the elements that portray the geometry of the project is the visitor Arrival Court, which adds color and texture. This drop-off and shuttle stop provides an entry to the Main Courtyard when events take place (photo: Cris Costea).
Stone bands originating in the lobby of the main entry traverse through the glass facade out into the heart of the courtyard. A mature grove of date palms and the Moorish inspired fountain provide the backdrop for a stage that is used for corporate gatherings (photo: Cris Costea).
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