The tree forest “adds a little interest to a lobby that would otherwise be very static,” Wilson said.
The result is what’s been named the Breathe lounge, which takes its name from the movement of the metal trees.
“The trees breathe and they kind of go up and down. Breathing really means a slow motion movement that happens gradually,” Wilson said. “It also has a little bit of rain forest character. When we stand back, it has a heavy rain or stormy type feel.”
The initial plan was to use the area as “a curated retail space,” Wilson said.
“Then COVID hit and it became very difficult to find an appropriate tenant to take on the concept and help us realize the original concept.” Wilson said.
As it happened, Basile had been working on a Las Vegas project in which he created huge metal umbrellas that opened and folded.
Using the Las Vegas installation as a model, Basile and Wilson went to work on the metal forest of nine trees in Diega.
The tree trunks are steel clad in wood, and can move up and down and the upper limbs fold and unfold with leaves of black aluminum mesh.
“We have the ability to control how they move, in what sequence, sort of a dance, a waltz,” Basile said. “It’s almost like they’re breathing and moving in a forest.
Basile uses metal extensively in his projects and won a 2020 award from the San Diego Architectural Foundation for his design of Broadway Makers Quarter in East Village, which has balconies fashioned from steel beams.
He also is fond of animated art installations in his projects – what Basile calls megatronics. The Diega metal tree forest is a reflection of that.
Wilson and Basile have worked on other projects in the past and plan to take their collaboration a step farther.
“Paul and I are working toward building our brand, on creating a development company together,” Wilson said. “We are developing four houses, very high-end homes in Mount Soledad.”
Basile said he and Wilson also are working on some restaurant projects.
“We’re starting to merge,” Basile said.
Wilson said the Diega project is a bit of a prototype “to give people a taste of what it would look like to combine the Basile Studio and Jules Wilson Design Studio together.”
In addition to the lobby, Wilson designed the interiors of Diega, which has 617 apartments in two towers - one tower of 20 stories connected to a tower of 41 stories.
“The goal from the developer was to make the apartments feel that they were of condominium quality because they (Bosa) have been primarily a condominium builder,” Wilson said. “They wanted to deliver a high level product to their tenants could taste and feel what a Bosa experience is like.”
As of early October, Diega was more than 75% leased, according to Bosa.