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Santa Fe Depot Transit Center

San Diego, CA


AWARDS: Merit Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects, San Diego Chapter


VDLA was retained to design a rail transit courtyard at the historic Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego. The linear public plaza serves the MTDB San Diego Trolley, Amtrak and the NCTD Coaster commuter rail service. Several master planning studies were undertaken involving Catellus Development and a multi-disciplinary team of engineers and planners, until a unified master plan was approved.


Creating a strong sense of arrival, the design deftly combines rail and pedestrian functions, while complementing the historic depot architecture. The plaza features brick-paved platforms, mature Date Palms, rail utility services, and richly detailed site furnishings. Design detailing respects the period that the depot was built, while responding to present-day functional and regulatory requirements.


The consultant team featured specialists for flexible unit (brick) paving systems, historic architecture, rail construction engineering, environmental compliance, utilities, etc. Multi-agency coordination for the project involved the Centre City Development Corporation, MTDB, Amtrak, North County Transit District Public Utilities Commission, ADA Groups, Historic Sites Board and other interest groups, including early coordination of art museum use of the Depot baggage building.

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