Emerging from the Pandemic, Three Amphitheaters Look Ahead

by: Jeffrey Zieba, AIA, CASp, LEED AP BD+C | April 15, 2021

Through the course of this pandemic, we’ve all come to realize how important gathering in social settings is to our health and wellbeing.

Now, as vaccination efforts gain momentum and restrictions ease, we can contemplate the possibility of coming together again. Spring has arrived, the Bay Area weather has been magnificent, and our thoughts turn to public parks, gardens, and outdoor amphitheaters – places that help satisfy our innate desire for social interactions, cultural experiences, and connections to nature. ELS has three such projects in the works that we’d like to share.

A rendering by ELS shows improvements to the Berkeley Rose Garden.

For the past six years, we’ve been working with the City of Berkeley on the iconic Berkeley Rose Garden. Renovations include restoration and reconstruction of the historic park’s redwood pergola, new restrooms, site furnishings, and cozy spots to take in the breathtaking views to the west. A new event terrace can be used for a wide range of income-generating activities. Given the topographically challenging site, providing accessibility has been a primary concern. An accessible path of travel is achieved through regrading and the use of wheelchair-friendly surfaces such as masonry paving.

A rendering by ELS of the renovated amphitheater at John Hinkel Park in Berkeley.

We’re also working with the City of Berkeley on major improvements to John Hinkel Park. Located in a beautiful hillside grove, the park’s historic amphitheater has been home to multiple local theatre ensembles and youth acting camps. These and other rental users will benefit from this project’s significant renovations, which include repairing and expanding the amphitheater’s masonry seating. To maximize the performance area’s usability, we’re providing additional power, theatrical rigging points, set storage, upgraded surfaces, and accessibility for performers. Further work includes new picnic and play areas, a restored stone fireplace, reconfigured parking, and additional accessibility improvements.

A rendering by ELS of the renovated John L. Carter Park in Half Moon Bay.

With the City of Half Moon Bay, we’re creating significant improvements to John L. Carter Park – a hidden gem located off Main Street near the Pilarcitos Creek riparian corridor. Using the park’s natural contours, we’ve created a new landscaped amphitheater for events hosted by the city and other users such as the Half Moon Bay Shakespeare Company. Our design includes a new stage and performer support building nestled in an existing redwood grove, along with public restrooms, ticket and concession space, and an outdoor picnic area. A garden terrace will overlook the amenities below, with an accessible path guiding users and patrons into the park.

At ELS, this pandemic has instilled in us a greater appreciation of how public open spaces help keep people happy and healthy. These are profoundly important activities, and we’re proud to work with the cities of Berkeley and Half Moon Bay to reinvigorate green spaces that fill this vital need.