Ruocco Park

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San Diego, CA
United States
Ruocco Park

Positioned between Seaport Village and Tuna Harbor, this 3.3-acre park overlooks San Diego Bay and Coronado Island. Work was completed in 2012 by ONA Associates, which has since merged with the firm Wimmer Yamada and Caughey (WYAC). Previously a restaurant and parking lot on port-controlled land, the park honors Lloyd and Ilse Ruocco, who established a fund for a public park beginning in 1977. Lloyd Ruocco was a prominent local Modernist architect, and his wife, Ilse, an interior designer and professor.

Located at the busy intersection of West Harbor Drive and the Pacific Highway, the entrance to the park is a half-acre plaza featuring the 45-foot-high sculpture, Roman de Salvo consisting of suspended eucalyptus branches which are sliced lengthwise. Named The Riparium (2012) and built to suggest a sailboat’s mast and rigging, the sculpture keeps the ground plane open and allows visitors pass under an ever-changing web of shadows into the park beyond. Pedestrian circulation consists of a perimeter loop around a large oval lawn bordered by sweetshade and shoestring acacia trees. Other plantings include fern pines in the northwest corner and drought-tolerant, xeriscape gardens at the northern and southern borders. A separate picnic lawn is dotted with shade trees and circular concrete islands, each one containing a picnic bench. Interspersed with planting areas, stones, and benches, a paved oval plaza at the park’s western end opens on the Embarcadero.