Irvine, CA (1996)
This project is a 14,000 square foot Italian restaurant and bakery located in Southern California, which seats up to 280 people indoors and outdoors.
The owner sought a classic European atmosphere that was refined yet relaxed , and would offer a respite from the heat and sterility of its urban environment. Tall ceilings, minimal solid walls, and large full-height door and window openings are employed to invite light and air and permit stimulating views through the many layers of indoor and outdoor spaces. Attention is given to offering a variety of different dining experiences.
The kitchen and exhibition cookline are fully exposed to one side of the dining room. On the other side, seating is arranged along large cafe windows open to piazza seating outside. A special dining table is located in the kitchen itself.
A private dining room with its own outdoor terrace looks directly into an exhibition bakery. An outdoor garden courtyard is carved out of the center of the dining room. Here, retractable awnings and gas heaters create an outdoor dining room that is comfortable year-round.
Materials were selected that were rich in natural color and texture. A crude yellow sugar pine was used for the ceiling and casework. Walls are of a natural gray plaster — unpainted. Etched Red Verona marble is inset into the white ceramic tile wainscot. The floor is European flagstone which runs uninterrupted inside and out. Custom light fixtures and simple, unpretentious paintings were commissioned to enrich the space.
To defend against the hot climate, special consideration was given to the articulation of window openings. Exterior awnings block the harsh afternoon sun. The large cafe windows open completely to allow natural ventilation. The lower section of the windows remains fixed to protect diners from gusts of wind while the large windows above are open. At least one YSA principal participated as design architect, supervising architect and/or designer while associated with the architect-of-record for this project.