Seaport Village

Site Enhancement and Activation to revitalize classic waterfront district

Seaport Village is a waterfront shopping, dining, and entertainment complex reminiscent of harbor-side settings of a century ago. The 14-acre site, opened in 1980, hosts 54 one-of-kind shops, 13 casual eateries, and four fine-dining restaurants.

A prime destination, Seaport Village presents a unique opportunity to revitalize the downtown waterfront through building community, experimenting with new models of community engagement, and celebrating local art, culture, and innovation.

In the fall of 2018, the Port of San Diego hired SLP Urban Planning to manage the ‘interim activation’ at Seaport Village. This strategic series of near-term interventions employs site enhancements, edu-tainment, and arts partnerships to enliven the village while testing ideas for the future of San Diego’s waterfront more broadly.

Our approach is iterative and experimental, grounded in principles of Tactical Urbanism and Human-Centered Design. From decluttering common spaces, implementing moveable furniture, and facilitating community happenings, to the creation of seven artists in residency programs, a podcast studio, and a monthly concert series, we are creating a waterfront where visitors and tourists alike can gather, exchange ideas, and celebrate time with one another.

Though COVID-19 has posed new challenges, we’ve worked rapidly to bring a taste of that placemaking to our ‘Virtual Village’.

Strategic Activations

Artist in Residency Program (Current Participants)

  • Studio by the Bay presented by The New Children’s Museum
  • Bread & Salt Gallery
  • La Bodega Gallery
  • Oslo Sardine Bar
  • Jessica Ling Findley Studio
  • Studio Marisa

Seaport Sessions Music Series

V1 Weekly Concert & Lecture Series

V2 Monthly Headliner Concert & Art Walk

V3 Virtual Monthly Headliner Concert, Interviews with artists & Virtual Studio Tours [pivoted to immediately adjust to the COVID-19 context]

Seaport Streams (Live Streaming Online Content) [invented to respond to the COVID-19 context]

Every Thursday: Acoustic Music Performances from Local Musicians

Every Friday: Storytime with Tim Kern & childrens’ performance or workshop

Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Gallery & Showcase

Showcase and pop-up gallery of student art from San Diego Unified School District

Ocean Optimism: Art Interpreting Science, a Weeklong Edu-tainment Event

Inspired by the Ocean Sciences Meeting, the flagship conference for the ocean sciences and the larger ocean-connected community coming to the adjacent San Diego convention center in February 2020, Seaport Village invited artist Jessica Ling Findley to produce a series of immersive art experiences that bring science to life and highlight today’s most challenging environmental concerns with whimsy, creativity, and humor.

Seaport Studio

Open source Podcast Studio, free to the public by reservation.

Seaport Sessions Podcast

Weekly podcast with interviews from local leaders, artists, and innovators.

Birch Aquarium Pop-Up Series

Hands-on science learning for kids.

San Diego City College Graphic Design Showcase

Display of student rebrands for Seaport Village for a panel of civic leaders.

Seaport Share

Curated exhibition showcasing the best that San Diego has to offer.

Site Enhancements

Logo Redesign & Brand Refresh

Comprehensive brand update for renewed look and feel.

Signage Update

New identity and wayfinding signage to complement the refreshed brand and improve navigation.

Paint Refresh

Simplify the color and graphics palette, drawing more attention to the offerings and location while establishing a uniform and a contemporary look for the site.

Native and Drought Tolerant Landscaping

Replace landscaping with native and drought tolerant species. Test ideas for sustainable landscaping at other waterfront properties.

Carousel Update

Paint refresh and improved pedestrian connectivity.

Lighthouse District

Demo Gazebo to create flexible event space.

Flexible Furniture

Moveable furniture to encourage interaction and introduce greater flexibility to the event space.

Urban Beach

Transform overgrown hedges into an urban beach, enhancing connectivity to the waterfront & encouraging gathering along the Embarcadero.

Integrated Communications

Art & Culture

Position Seaport Village as a destination for art, culture, education, and community where people of all ages and backgrounds can experience innovative and relevant programming. Strengthen partnerships and establish an ‘arts district’ in collaboration with neighboring institutions.


Emphasize the ways the history of the site has shaped the region over centuries. The present iteration is a contemporary piece of that transformation, creating a rich palette for the next evolution.


Establish Seaport as a destination for thought leaders in the Blue Economy, specifically Blue Tech and Ocean Innovation via the Ocean Optimism – Art Interpreting Science Events, environmental literacy and blue economy / tech industries.

San Diego

Visually portray the cross-section of economic, civic and recreational activities taking place on the Bay through the site-specific lens of Seaport Village.

Sea Life & Ecology

Showcase biodiversity, environmental change and climate resiliency as it relates to the highly unique Seaport Village site.

Human-Centered Design

Foot Traffic Study

  • Visitor Count
  • Journey Maps
  • Synthesized with sales and car count data

Intercept Surveys

  • Interview people along their natural path as they move through Seaport Village
  • Use findings to inform activations and site enhancements

Stakeholder Engagement

  • Interactive, ‘workshop’ style approach
  • Employ the ‘affinity mapping’ gamestorming tool to hear equally from all voices at the table
  • Example groups: Tenants, Partners/Collaborators, Port, Nearby Residents

Precedent Studies

  • Exploration of similar sites around the nation and globe
  • In light of COVID-19, deep dive into tourist retail response to similar crises throughout history