The new 19,000 square-foot Quail Hill Community Center in Irvine, Calif. is one of the largest community centers in the area, and serves to bring the region together through education and exploration. Envisioned as a gateway to nature, the goal was to create connected indoor and outdoor spaces that offer various activities, programs and classes—all connected to nature. Many of the lessons offered focus on educating visitors about the local flora and fauna, and connecting users to the local trail system that extends through the Quail Hill Loop Trail leading to the coast.

Given the educational goals, it was essential to incorporate a sustainable approach to the site and building design. The design team incorporated several strategies to reduce energy and water use including: solar panel arrays, high-efficiency LED lighting, low water use fixtures, and native landscaping. These strategies resulted in a LEED Gold certification through the U.S. Green Building Council. Inside the building, we created four key program zones: an exercise room for wellness activities such as dance and yoga classes; classrooms for early childhood education and other special interest classes; a space for fine arts camps and adult art classes; and a rentable conference center for large training events, weddings, and other group activities. Outdoor spaces include interpretive gardens, interactive components for educational opportunities, and a playground for adventure play. The new community center facilitates learning, play and exploration—ultimately contributing to the education and well-being of the more than 248,000 residents it serves.