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The New Kid on the Block

Written by: Taylor Simmons The Vision Behind San Diego’s Quartyard Urban Park
Photographed by: Michael Wesley

The Expert: Philip Auchettl
Credentials: CEO of Rad Lab / Developer of Quartyard Urban Park

Q: How did you come up with the idea of Quartyard?
Philip Auchettl: Quartyard began as our thesis project while we were graduate students at NewSchool of Architecture and Design. We began looking at blighted and vacant land, and the negative impact these types of spaces can have on a community. A lot of these empty lots had future plans for development, but the question remained … what could we do for now? And how could it act as a placeholder for future development?

Q: Why did you choose to make it sustainable?
PA: Sustainability and repurposed materials were a core building block in this project, from the shipping containers to our tree planters made from recycled dumpsters. Our trash bins are even repurposed barrels, and the wood for our beer garden tables is all reclaimed—some of it is 100 years old. In my opinion, as young designers, it is our responsibility to design environmentally friendly projects. Sustainability is simply part of the way we need to be looking at future architecture.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for a newcomer to Quartyard?
PA: Enjoy yourself. It’s an outdoor venue with music, food trucks, a full bar, a dog park, and, of course, be sure to check out S&M Sausage & Meat. Their sausages are unbelievable!

Q: Why shipping containers?
PA: This is a temporary project and shipping containers can be moved very easily. Once the city is ready to develop this lot, we can simply pack everything up on a truck and move to a new location.

Q: What does your slogan “Your City Block” mean to you?
PA: Quartyard was designed, financed, built and activated by the community for the community. From the very beginning, we held workshops and engaged with the people walking around East Village and asked them what they wanted to see here. We even created a Kickstarter to get the project off the ground and managed to raise $60, 000 in just 30 days.

Q: How does it feel to see people come and enjoy themselves at your establishment?
PA: We have had people pull us aside simply to say “thank you.” For me, that’s been one of the most rewarding experiences.

Q: Where do you see it going in five years?
PA: In five years, who knows? If the city is ready to develop, then Quartyard will be somewhere else. But we do hope that this project will not only continue to exist but also act as an emerging model for future development in other communities.

Q: Can you explain the relationship between Rad Lab and Quartyard?
PA: Rad Lab is the name of our design firm, and Quartyard is the name our first project.

Q: Can you explain your reasoning behind making the park dog-friendly?
PA: When you walk around downtown San Diego, the first thing everyone notices is that it feels like there are more dogs than people. It’s pretty remarkable that we now have somewhere where you can grab a coffee in the morning, a beer in the afternoon and let your dog off to play.

Q: What is the major strength that each partner brings to the table?
PA: We all come from different backgrounds, bring a wide range of talents and we all work so well together. I focus typically on the big picture and try to push us all forward in the right direction. David (COO) focuses on more operational and logistical feasibility. Adam (CFO) manages our general construction and how to enhance our profit margin. Jason (CCO) has a design eye, attention to detail and the creative side of the business.

Native Knowledge: Quartyard was made to be dog-friendly because San Diego has such a large number of canine inhabitants.

Quartyard Urban Park
1102 Market St
San Diego, CA 92101
714.392.8565 | www.radlabsd.com