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Smith Consulting Architects: Firm Completes New San Diego National Support Center for Petco



San Diego, Calif. — Smith Consulting Architects, a San Diego-based full-service design firm, recently completed the site planning, shell redesign, and interior design for the new Petco San Diego National Support Center, located at 10850 Via Frontera in the Rancho Bernardo area of San Diego. 

Petco is a pet specialty retailer that focuses on nurturing powerful relationships between people and pets. It operates more than 1,400 Petco locations across the U.S., Mexico, and Puerto Rico,

Whiting Turner, general contractor for the project, began construction in mid-July 2014 and recently completed the nearly 300,000-square-foot, two-level facility, 63,000 square feet of which is on a level below existing grade.

The project design (see interior photo) embodies Petco’s values of collaboration, community, sustainability, and pet-friendly environments, while addressing the needs of a workforce that is becoming increasingly more mobile.

Smith Consulting Architects developed an “Industrial Urban Park” design theme — essentially an urban park environment within an existing industrial building where employees and their pets can coexist in a comfortable, productive environment.  

The primary structural steel frame of the 1981 vintage building was, for the most part, retained and the exterior was clad with a glass and metal panel curtainwall system.

The east and west entries into the building are well-defined with red metal panels above the doors, creating an interesting contrast to the curtain wall system. 

A 28-foot-high, perforated stainless steel screen integrating Petco’s logo, including dog and cat “Ruff” and “Mews,” highlights the entry while providing a prominent branding element.  

The entry lobby, with a suspended wood blade ceiling and adjacent coffee kiosk, opens into a large atrium or “community park” that extends from the lower level to a height of more than 45 feet, created by removing and replacing the building structure in this area.

Opposite the lobby in this atrium are terraces that function for informal meetings, dining, or large company events. A large video wall sits opposite the terraces, with a bridge crossing the atrium at the main level connecting the east and west sides of the building. The “community park” is furnished with diffused daylight from a translucent panel skylight system.  

“The football field-sized, centrally located atrium allows daylight to filter into the upper and lower floors and serves as a community area that can be used for many different purposes, much like a park would,” said Scott Cairns, vice president-in-charge for Smith Consulting Architects. “The bridge across the atrium, as well as elements and materials found in outdoor spaces, are carried through the interior, creating continuity of the industrial urban park theme throughout the property.”

The large floor plate created a circulation challenge, which was addressed with a network of diagonal paths. Within this network, departments become “neighborhoods,” with travel between them easy and efficient.

At the intersection of paths are “connection hubs” — 10 in all — that provide gathering spots for informal discussions and interdepartmental interaction. 

Also essential to the large floorplate is the introduction of natural light. The translucent panels in the atrium, in conjunction with the exterior curtainwall system and the many skylights over the office area, maximize natural daylight, which is good not only for employees’ health and productivity, but also their pets’ well-being.

The exterior provides a diversity of settings ranging from an outdoor dining area to natural sitting areas, a basketball court, three dog parks, and a jogging trail, all affording employees and their pets options that best suit their personality or mood on a particular day. The architectural design integrates interior and exterior spaces, bringing the outdoors in and allowing the exterior spaces to function as work environments. 

Additional amenities on the site include a fitness center, full-service cafe with interior dining space that opens to the exterior dining area, photo studio, electric car-charging stations, and an 850-kilowatt, roof-mounted solar panel system, which provides more than half of the building’s energy needs.  

Smith Consulting Architects is a full-service planning, architecture and interior design firm in San Diego. For more information, visit











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