City of Lake Forest, Public Works
Parks & Recreation Project of the Year
Additional Files

Additional Information


Lake Forest Sports Park

Project Location:

28000 Rancho Parkway
Lake Forest, CA 92630

Project Description:

The Lake Forest Sports Park covers 86 acres with 57 acres devoted to sports field uses and 19 acres for passive uses. Recreation elements include:
• A lighted baseball complex providing for four (4) little league fields and one softball field.  All fields have been detailed with batting cages and bull pens.
• 25,000 square foot recreation center
• Two shaded tot lots with a mix of engineered wood chips and resilient rubber surfaces.
• Two synthetic soccer fields with covered spectator concrete seating areas.  One field is striped for lacrosse.
• Two clubhouses contain restrooms, concession stands, and recreation staff offices.
• Two lighted full-court basketball courts.
• Parking spaces for over 500 vehicles.
• 7.5 acre lighted natural grass ‘Commons’ and multi-use areas capable of multiple field layouts for tournaments, concerts, and community events.
• Meandering walkways throughout the park incorporating five exercise stations, rest areas, conversation pods, animal silhouettes, a nature overlook, and trails that connects to the Orange County trail network.
• Nine picnic shelters with BBQs
• Free public WiFi throughout the park.

The Lake Forest Sports Park recreation center houses a gymnasium, meeting rooms, instructional classes, teen gathering spaces, computer training, and dance activities. 
Two clubhouses consisting of restrooms, administrative offices and concession facilities provide support for all sporting events within the park.

In addition to the active recreation amenities, sustainable design elements have been woven into the fabric of the sports park. Bio-retention areas collect run off water and treat it before it is released into adjacent streams. Recycled water is used for field irrigation as well as in the restroom buildings reducing the demand on potable water. Additionally, the adjacent Glass Creek has been enhanced with a habitat mitigation area which provides for native plantings consistent with the stream beds indigenous character.

Civil Engineering features include:
-  Grading 1,300,000 cubic yards of material
- Constructing a 2-acre mitigation area
- Relocating an Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD) 16-inch reclaim water line running through the middle of   the site
- Constructing a new IRWD 12-inch domestic water line along the perimeter of the park site

Project Justification:

The Lake Forest Sports Park stands out from all other common sporting facilities in that it doesn’t simply include the required sustainable and engineering features but was designed for both passive and active recreation elements to best serve the community of Lake Forest. The site provides a level of detail and well-considered scale to both the active athletic facilities as well as the passive recreation activities available creating an environment that can be enjoyed by the entire community both day and evenings.  The site has become a gathering place for residents of all ages.

The parks’ landscape character is inspired by the region’s Mediterranean climate and indigenous plant material.  The planting palette was developed to echo the native plantings as well as minimize the water demands of the park.  California sycamores, Coastal Live Oaks and Bay Laurels were planted throughout the site to provide the framework and backdrop for the overall park development.  Sustainable grasses, coast rosemary, bougainvillea, aloe and rockrose were some of the shrub and ground cover materials specified to preserve and enhance the site character.

Sports Fields:
The project’s ballfield complex provides for four little league ballfields and one womens softball field.  Covered spectator seating, electronic scoreboards, caged pitching bullpen and soft-throw, and batting cages provide the adjacent support amenities to serve both league and ‘open play’ events. 

There are two soccer fields with synthetic turf, shaded concrete spectator seating, and electronic scoreboards.  One field is also line for lacrosse.  During hot days team “misters” and water cannons cool the players and turf.  The ‘FieldTurf’ synthetic turf provide an active subsurface drainage system allowing for year-round access and play. 

Dwarf Hybrid Bermuda was specified for the project’s natural turf grass for the ballfields and mixed use fields.  This material provides for a medium-fine blade that provides for an exceptional field surface for soccer, baseball and lacrosse.  Well suited to the Southern California climate, the material provides for excellent durability and wear tolerance. 

Both the multi-purpose and ballfields were designed with an integrated system of sand channels to enhance the field’s drainage and the City’s ability to aggressively program the fields for both league and ‘open play’ venues. 

Architectural Elements:
Architectural features:
- Craftsman-style architecture for the recreation building and clubhouses
- Generous eaves and overhangs to mitigate / soften seasonal sun, heat and glare
- Stacked stone veneer accenting the shade structures, buildings, planters, seating walls, spectator areas, and entry monuments.
- Thematic meandering dry rock creek bed
- Prarie-style walkway lighting
- Outdoor stage overlooking the Community Commons
-    Flagstone accents w/in the fields of washed concrete walks and plazas.

Natural Systems Integration / Engineered Environmental Elements:
Water Quality Features
- Detention basins and bio-retention areas mitigate for hydro-modification by detaining runoff for up to 48 hours to allow particles and pollutants to settle.
- Bio-retention swales at the base of slopes, adjacent to the playing field, and incorporated within the parking lots capture storm run-off water and biologically treat the water before it is released into adjacent Glass Creek.
- A 2-acre mitigation area consisting of grassy vegetated swales meander through basins to allow infiltration and retention during and after storm events.  These capacity of this meandering swale has been designed to emulate the ephemeral streams that existing on site prior to the park’s development.
- In-summary the BMPs in-place bio-retention swales detention basin, and mitigation area reduces the peak flows by 26 CFS, and have the capacity to detain 12.7 ac-ft of water.

The Lake Forest Sports Park also provides facilities for non-sporting activities. Throughout the park site there are:
-  shelters for family picnicking and gatherings
-  walking trails with exercise equipment
-  trails connecting with the County trail system along Aliso Creek
-  two tot lots for kids
-  romantic overlook of Saddleback mountain and Saddleback Church, and
-  up-lighting that accentuates the characteristics of specimen trees.

In the Recreation Building there are:
-  meeting rooms for conducting classes
-  activity room for dancing and ballet classes
-  teen lounge for youths to hang out and socialize, and
-  computer center for public use and classes for technical advancement.

Outside the Recreation Building there are:
-  covered patios for outdoor exercise, crafts classes, informal meetings
-  courtyards and site furnishings to relax, socialize, and contemplate; and
-  a 2.4 acre Commons area with natural turf and a stage for concerts and ‘Movies at the Park’ events and other large programmed community events.

Special Circumstances:

The initial development of the Lake Forest Sports Park started with acquisition and compilation of four separate parcels of land totaling 100 acres.  A land swap with the County of Orange included developer property adjacent to Whiting Ranch being exchanged a County parcel along Glass Creek.  No tax dollars were used for the over $80 million total project, but the City used existing developer fees for the cost for land aqc.

More than 1.3 million cubic yards of material were balanced on site to create the canvas for the parks construction.  During the grading phase a 16-inch reclaim water line running through the middle of the park site needed to be relocated.  Additionally, a two-acre wildlife / stream mitigation area was constructed to preserve the existing onsite biodiversity of Glass Creek.

After the initial rough grading and habitat mitigation areas had been provided for, the park amenities were constructed. These amenities set themselves apart from other projects not only in design but also in construction.

Special Relationships:
• Extensive negotiations with the existing property owners to secure a contiguous city –owned site for the park’s development.
• Design Process began with a hands on-community participation design work shop.  Participates engaged in an on-site tour of the existing site followed by a design workshop to identify the community’s priorities and goals for the park’s development.  The process included a hands-on design workshop where participants worked collectively to develop conceptual park plans.  The architects and City officials wanted a park to be a gathering place that reflects the heritage of the City.  The consultant team prepared a Consensus Park Master Plan based upon the feedback from the Community Design Workshop to give rise to a park design reflective of the values and needs of the city of Lake Forest.
• Overall park design provides for an integrated mix of both passive and active recreation that provides a park that serves the multi-generational profile of the City.
• Close and on-going interaction with the Irvine Ranch Water District to deliver reclaimed water to all site landscape areas as well as to serve the park’s restrooms.
• Extensive coordination with the Army Corps of Engineers and Fish and Game to develop an on-site Habitat Mitigation Area to compensate for the removal of the site’s existing ephemeral streams.  The resultant mitigation area was designed to reflect to existing natural character of Glass Creek.  Native plantings were provided to complement the sites indigenous character and biodiversity.

The project incorporates sustainable design elements such as recycled water in the restroom building reducing the demand on potable water.  Drought tolerant and native plant material species are planted to promote water efficiency.  Selected turf grasses will contribute to a reduction in water volume necessary to create a beautiful landscape.

Project Attachments:


Award Citation::

The Lake Forest Sports Park is Orange County’s premier passive and active sporting facility.  Providing top-of-the line athletic amenities in an environment that is enjoyed by all members of the community.  The Lake Forest Sports Park is as spectacular at night as it is during the day.

Suggested Award Summary:

The Lake Forest Sports Park is the premiere public sporting facility in Orange County providing top-of-the line athletic amenities in an environment that is enjoyed by all facets of the community.  The Lake Forest Sports Park is the product of numerous community workshops resulting in a facility uniquely designed to meet the needs of the community and the various user groups.  The athletic amenities include a five-field baseball complex, two soccer/lacrosse arenas synthetic turf, and over 8 acres of natural turf for multiple uses.

The 25,000 sq ft recreation building houses a two full-court basketball/volleyball gymnasium, and two wings of classrooms, lounge areas, and activity rooms.  Two clubhouses contain restrooms and concession stands.

The architectural design of the buildings responds to the needs and reflects the heritage of the community.  The craftsman-style architectural smartly utilizes stacked stone veneer accenting the shade structures, buildings, planters, seating walls, spectator areas, and entry monuments; exposed wood beams and steel roofs.  Decorative concrete block, colored porcelain tiles, and aluminum louvered sunscreens are incorporated into the recreation building design.

The former Glass Creek site has been designed into a sports park by preserving all natural systems that previously occupied the site before the park’s development with bio-retention basins and grassy vegetated swales meandering through the sports fields and parking lot.

The project incorporates sustainable design elements such as recycled water in the restroom buildings, drought tolerant and native plant material species, and selected turf grasses requiring reduced water needs.

The pedestrian experience is enhanced with a meandering dry rock creek bed, prairie-style walkway lighting, a romantic overlook stage of Saddleback Mountain and Saddleback Church, flag-stone and brass inlays integrated into the concrete walkways, and replicas of wild animals throughout the site.  With the Mediterranean influenced landscaping and strategically placed up-lighting the Lake Forest Sports Park is as spectacular at night as it is during the day.


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