Rady Shell at Jacobs Park

San Diego, Calif.


Submitted By: Rudolph and Sletten

Owner: San Diego Symphony

Lead Design Firm: Tucker Sadler Architects

Contractor: Rudolph and Sletten

Structural Engineer: Coffman Engineers

Landscape Architect: Burton Landscape Architecture Studio

Located on a narrow piece of land jutting into San Diego Bay, this concert venue was designed to elevate the experience of live music while also providing the community with a park where culture and nature intersect. The design of the outdoor venue includes a covered stage and back-of-house facilities, a behind-the-stage patio, flexible seating to accommodate up to 10,000 people, public restrooms, a public promenade, environmentally sustainable landscaping, and sand-based synthetic turf designed to reduce water consumption.

Virtual design and construction (VDC) played a critical role in the project due to the non-traditional building materials, site location on a manmade jetty and unforeseen challenges of working on a one-of-a-kind entertainment venue. Since the construction of the ceiling and roof structure was steel and fabric, traditional methods for installation of the overhead mechanical, plumbing, electrical, fire sprinkler and A/V equipment could not be utilized. All overhead systems had to be designed and modeled to make sure everything fit virtually before construction. The team also utilized BIM to accurately document existing underground utilities and quickly verify elevation for tie-in points.

Rady Shell at Jacobs Park

Photo courtesy Largo Concrete

The client originally asked for the entire project to be completed in a compressed nine-month schedule, which required contractors to work at the site six days a week, 10 hours a day for those first nine months. However, due to COVID-19 shutdowns, the team gained an additional 13 months to work on the project. Taking advantage of the construction timeline extension, the client opted to expand the project's scope by adding a large number of venue upgrades and audio/video enhancements.

The new additions by the owner required more coordination on the part of the project team so the new items could be incorporated into the planned construction buildout. First, such a high-profile project required Rudolph and Sletten to coordinate with a number of entities, including San Diego Symphony, Port of San Diego, Coastal Commission, City of San Diego, San Diego Convention Center, Seaport Village, Hilton Hotels and Marriott Hotels. This necessitated extensive communication and many in-person meetings to clarify the wishes and requirements of each stakeholder and to ensure all were kept informed of how the project was being designed and approached in order to meet their expectations.

Rady Shell at Jacobs Park

Photo by Darren Bradley

The project team sent out meeting minutes to all parties involved to ensure clarity of the items discussed and track all action items. Every month, the team released a “community update” document to all major businesses in the area to inform them of progress at the site and any potential impacts the work might have to the surrounding vicinity.

To enforce quality and craftsmanship, Rudolph and Sletten utilized a “zero punch list approach.” As items and sections of the project were nearing completion, the project team would walk the spaces and ask the trades to make any corrections necessary as work progressed. This ensured that when the completed project was walked with the architect and owner, the number of last-minute punch list items was minimized.