The Crown Jewel

Collecting awards is easy for the Village of Woodbury, a new residential community in Irvine, Calif., designed and developed by the Irvine Community Development Company. Voted “Best Master-Planned Community of the Year” in 2006 by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), it is one of four major awards for the village. One of the NAHB judges remarked it was “refreshing to find a community where asphalt isn’t the main amenity; where residents are only five minutes maximum from a park.”

Jim Maloney, a principal of the SWA Group, the planning and landscape architectural firm involved in the development, says that Woodbury’s amenities are “on the edge of being above and beyond the typical.” Maloney is hedging his bets with that statement.

Kevin Chudy, General Manager of the Woodbury Association, isn’t as modest as he talks about the multiple features that comprise The Commons, the 30-acre central gathering place and the crown jewel of the community.

Irvine Village Of Woodbury–An Architect’s View

“To describe Woodbury, one must first describe Irvine, Calif.,” says Maloney. The City of Irvine was the Irvine Ranch, which stretched 100,000 acres from the Pacific Ocean to the ClevelandNational Forest. In the 1960s, Irvine began to grow with a series of villages.

Woodbury is a one-mile square chunk of the northern portion of Irvine. The master planning for this village started in 2000, and it is anticipated that Woodbury will have approximately 4,100 residential units at full build-out–including single-family detached homes, townhomes, condominiums and apartments–in four neighborhood areas.

Located in The Commons is Woodbury Community Park, with a soccer field, two baseball diamonds, two lighted full-size basketball courts, a tot lot, picnic areas and a community center staffed by city parks personnel. WoodburyElementary School also is located at The Commons.

Also within The Commons is The Club–a resort-style recreational complex exclusively for Woodbury residents. The Club includes three swimming pools, four lighted tennis courts, a lighted basketball court, a sand volleyball court, garden courtyards and other lushly landscaped social seating areas, an outdoor fireplace, a Great Lawn for outdoor events and a clubhouse with two multi-purpose buildings available for private parties, one with a service kitchen.

The swimming pools provide for almost any aquatic need. The “sports pool” is an eight-lane Junior Olympic-size competition pool with a grass seating area for spectators. It is the home of the Woodbury Waves Swim Team, and also accommodates water polo games, swim lessons and lap swimmers.

The “family pool” is a lagoon-style pool with beach edge that is ADA accessible. It includes a children’s water garden (spray park) and wading pool. The children find the water-garden “guardian” delightful. The guardian is a precast concrete figure with an interactive water spray.

The “resort pool” is the quietest of the three, with readers stretched out in lounge chairs. This pool has a spa, cabanas and a barbecue.

Maloney explains that the design of the pools was inspired by the Venetian pools of Coral GablesPark in Florida–a park built in the 1920s. “The arcades and pergolas set a precedent for the architectural design,” he says. “The original pool was developed in an old spring-fed quarry, which had a beach entry. We tried to emulate that design, keeping in mind the vast differences in building code between 1920 and today.”

Add a clubhouse with a multi-purpose room, fitness/activities room and courtyard for indoor/outdoor events, and one can see why Woodbury wins awards.

The General Manager’s Viewpoint

Summer 2007 was the first summer season for the facility, and the pools were packed. “Our lagoon pool is unbelievable,” states Chudy, who took possession of The Club last September. “It is a huge draw for families.”

Chudy keeps the activities rolling for the community too. There is an assortment of classes and clubs held in the multi-purpose rooms, from standards such as yoga and children’s gymnastics to others tailored specifically for new homeowners, such as Home Depot’s “Do-It-Yourself” event. There are movies in the park, holiday celebrations and even a kid’s bike rodeo.

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