Civic Projects

Contra Costa County Government Core Plaza

Martinez, California 


With the removal of the old jail, a new open space will present the opportunity to develop a public plaza anchored and framed by the County Administration Building, new Satellite Administration project and the historic Finance Building. Drawing from these three buildings as well as the Old Stone Jail, we have captured an element of each in the design of the plaza.


The urban design framework defining the space begins with terracing the site and providing a clear focus of uses on the north end of the plaza. Introducing the curvature of the architectural designs, the repurposed Old Jail granite is used to create a spectacular, arced wall separating the upper and lower terrace. This curvilinear scheme is played out in several key elements including a sweeping universally accessible walk that traverses the site, drawing users into and activating the lower plaza.


Expanding the multiuse vision, a trellised shade area/curved stage adds to the place-making and suggests performances or impromptu entertainment. A variety of gathering choices are offered from casual grass lounging, an open area to accommodate flexible events, tables and chairs for the lunch crowd, and the expansive seat wall-the best spot for people watching. Fanciful seating/conversation pods are protected under an eye-catching sculptural shade structure introduced to animate and punctuate the entry to the plaza.


This plaza with aggregated uses provides the synergistic opportunity to achieve an activated campus hub for the Government District and to contribute a plaza that comfortably provides a flexible community amenity for smaller group activities and grand events alike.


Owner/Client: Contra Costa County

Team Lead: Dreyfuss + Blackford Architects