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Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Burton Studio Attracting Global Attention, Clients

ARCHITECTURE: Solana Beach Firm Making Big Mark Locally Too

Solana Beach landscape architectural firm Burton Studio has gained an international reputation for its stunning work on everything from luxury resorts to the reimaging of a historic portion of the capital city of Qatar.

Closer to home, Burton Studio did the landscape design for the Rady Shell outdoor performance venue for the San Diego Symphony along San Diego’s downtown waterfront and is the landscape architect on the renovation and expansion of the Hotel del Coronado.

Yet aside from industry insiders, the firm that was founded in 1989 by William Burton is a bit of what its principals call a hidden gem waiting to be discovered on the fly.

Following the lead set by Burton, who retired six years ago, the firm has deliberately kept a low profile, according to its principals – Patrick Baldwin, Matthew Uyeda and Matthew MacLeod.

Matthew Uyeda
Principal
Burton Studio

“Bill Burton was never big on marketing. He liked the idea of being discovered,” said Uyeda, who has been with the firm for 26 years. “I think there is some mystique to not being the biggest and the boldest and not getting your name out there for everybody to spring on.”

With a staff of 21, Baldwin said that he and the other principals want to keep the firm relatively small “to make sure that we always know what’s going out the door.”

Patrick Baldwin
Principal
Burton Studio

“We’ve never grown much a larger than 20,” Baldwin said, although the firm in 2022 opened a satellite office in Northern California.

“Bill was an amazing mentor,” said Uyeda. “He was a great communicator, and he really took the business as far as he could. We’re really kind of just taking that baton and carrying it with everything we’ve learned over the years.”

The firm’s size “affords us the ability to pick and choose projects that we’re excited and passionate about,” Uyeda said.

Matthew MacLeod
Principal
Burton Studio

Baldwin described the firm’s home base in Solana Beach as “a very fluid family atmosphere. The studio here in Solana Beach is a big open warehouse,” said Baldwin, who has been with the firm for 23 years, “so everyone knows what’s going on all the time. Everybody sees all the projects and usually puts their hand in.”

Burton Studio doesn’t specialize in any particular market type or location. “We like to kind of land anywhere and take on any type of project,” Baldwin said. “We kind of like getting out over our skis a little bit as the saying goes.”

That has led the firm to work on projects in Mexico, the southern U.S., Asia and the Middle East.

“We got involved in the Middle East a lot for the simple reason that a lot of Southern California companies moved over there, especially when the recession hit,” Baldwin said. “The diversity of the people you meet along the way is just amazing.”

Burton was chosen in an international competition overseen by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser to provide site-wide landscape architecture, lighting, and signage design for the city center of downtown Doha, Qatar. The project is considered one of the most significant sustainable redevelopment projects globally, according to Burton.

The Qatar project covered 76.6 acres, 31 hectares, with 100 buildings designed by eight architects.

“The tagline for the project was everything we do had to be rooted in the past looking toward the future,” Baldwin said.

In San Diego, the Rady Shell is among Burton Studio’s most notable projects.

The Rady Shell itself was designed by the San Diego architectural firm of Tucker Sadler, but everything else around the site was designed by Burton Studio.

“We focused really on how you come into that space,” MacLeod said, from the height of light installations and the route of the pathways around the shell to the paving stones used in the walkways and the exercise equipment around the embarcadero.

Among Burton’s ongoing projects is Phase 1 of ocV!BE, an Orange County project that will ultimately include a 5,700-capacity concert venue, more than 1.1 million square feet of office space, 1,500 residential units, 20 acres of public space, 10 acres of parks and two hotels.

Burton Studio

Founded:  1989
Headquarters:  Solana Beach, CA
Principals:   Patrick Baldwin, Matthew Uyeda, and Matthew MacLeod
Business:  Landscape Architecture
Number of employees:  21
Website:  www.burton-studio.com
Contact:  Patrick Baldwin,  patrick@burton-studio.com
Notable:    Burton Studio is working on Phase 1 of ocV!BE,  the largest development project in California. Phase 1 includes a new concert hall, restaurants, an office tower, and an urban park.

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