When Castle & Cooke, the creators of Copperopolis Town Square, a mixed use retail based community center, first envisioned this new town center, they were simultaneously challenged by their desire to create the character of the town in a historically appropriate manner. They brought together a team lead by local architect Rudy Ortega, and asked "how do we create an old town that appears to have evolved over 150 years into a present day thriving town without losing it's original charm?"
Ultimately the answer was to be found in the patterns, forms and textures that would be incorporated into the final design. The process involved research, and a sensitivity to the community patterns that resulted from a mind set that may have existed during this period of the region's rich history. The goal was to create a town that had the appearance of evolving over a long period of time beginning in the late 1850's.
The exercise required a journey back in time coupled with an abandonment of the design disciplines that typically govern the contemporary architecture of retail based mixed use development. The design team was inspired by the unpretentious character of the existing historic towns that exist throughout the "Sierra Motherlode". The process of capturing the charm and warmth that characterizes these towns begins with the creation of a pedestrian experience that is inviting and safe.
To accomplish this, the town has been designed with a town square serving as the focal point surrounded by street focused storefronts. On street parking, and relatively narrow streets were incorporated into the design to provide the necessary traffic calming that is required in order to allow the free and safe movement of pedestrians within the town. The majority of parking was placed behind buildings to soften the impacts of vehicles and required parking. Pedestrian traffic patterns were thoughtfully designed to allow free and unrestrained movement. The hardscape was then integrated with landscaping to produce a colorful and accessible setting for the numerous structures that would ultimately be constructed.
With the stage set, the architecture was then introduced to simply contain and protect the activities that would come to be the functional heart of the town. Existing historic patterns suggested a scale of architecture characterized by one and two story structures, covered walkways, and an eclectic mix of relatively narrow street focused storefronts. The selection of exterior materials was thoughtfully considered to provide the rich variety of textures and colors that is so characteristic of our region. The successful result of this can be seen through an integrated streetscape that captures the scale and feel of an old town.
The remaining challenge was to somehow create a sense that the town had in fact evolved over a long period of time which is the nature of our historic towns. To do this we decided to create a "back story". To achieve this, the design team speculated to suggest the kinds of buildings that someone might have expected to see if visiting an old historic town. What building structures might still exist as remnants and reminders of an earlier period. In addition, what changes to these structures might have occurred over time with respect to either physical alterations or functional use.
Thus the town will have an "old firehouse" that is now the community bank, the remnant of the " old town hall" which now serves retail and residential uses, and the "old mercantile" which has now become the home of a new specialty grocery store. Additionally, the town will feature the " old courthouse" that has now become a welcoming hospitality Inn, and an "original school house" that now provides the town with medical services. As a result, Copperopolis Town Square has evolved into a historically sensitive and unpretentious community center where residents and visitors alike can come to work, live, and play.