A New Start for an Old Town


Profiled Firm: Pacific Coast Land Design |  Location: Ventura, California (USA)
redeveloped streetscape

Once a popular backdrop for western films in the early 20th century, Newhall, California would eventually experience dramatic decline as the sprawling suburbs of nearby Los Angeles drew people away, leaving behind struggling businesses and high vacancy rates. 

Recently, an active City Council launched a revitalization effort to alter Newhall’s fate, calling on regional landscape architecture firm Pacific Coast Land Design (PCLD) to make it
all happen. The result is Old Town Newhall, an emerging, mixed-used, pedestrian-oriented village with a redeveloped streetscape.

PCLD’s six-person design team, known for their expertise in public works projects, worked with the Council to re-envision the central corridor of Main Street, from which the City had diverted traffic to a nearby roadway and added a roundabout to improve the flow of through-traffic. “We wanted to strengthen the community’s heritage and instill a new sense of pride in downtown Newhall,” says PCLD Principal Chris Roberts.

Vectorworks allows us to use one file from the start, beginning at the conceptual phase and moving into construction, all while letting us pull out reports and diagrams to communicate our design to anyone who needs to see it. Vectorworks is an incredibly important part of our process.


Mike Zielsdorf, PCLD Principal

BIM Tools Assist Sustainability Goals

PCLD’s plan for the site introduced sustainable features, ensuring the project would function efficiently into the future. To do this, PCLD relied on Vectorworks® Landmark design software. “We have to provide water budget calculations for each site, which can become time-consuming if you don’t have the right tools,” said PCLD Principal Mike Zielsdorf. “We can input all of our data into our worksheet and use smart calculations in Vectorworks Landmark to do all the budgeting for us. Everything happens with the click of a button.” 

To realize its vision for the site, PCLD also utilized Vectorworks software’s Building Information Modeling (BIM) capabilities. The team created a file that served as single source of information, which gave the project lasting value for the construction team and the owners. Data from the Vectorworks hardscape and planting area objects was keyed into dynamic project worksheets, allowing the team to maintain up-to-date quantity calculations for the various paving materials and landscape features as the design progressed. 

“We incorporate as many advanced design features as we can into every project, making sure that everything works together to ensure that not a single drop of water is wasted,” said Roberts. “We want to create a landscape that is both beautiful and can last for years to come, no matter how the climate changes.”

streetscape site plan

Vectorworks Aids Success

“Visualization was critical during the design process for Old Town Newhall,” said Zielsdorf. “We generated several 3D design renderings to communicate our ideas to the community at workshops, and we used their feedback right up until construction began.” For example, renderings of the roundabout helped the City address the concerns of local drivers, and business owners were reassured by the detailed drawings that exhibited how beautiful the site would become. 

Another presentation tool that PCLD used to streamline the process of aligning the 3D model with site photographs was CameraMatch, a third-party Vectorworks plugin (now fully integrated into Vectorworks). With CameraMatch, PCLD created renderings that were more realistic and easily recognizable by stakeholders and users in context with the existing site and its surroundings.

redeveloped streetscape

PCLD’s success has earned the firm numerous local and regional awards. “But it’s the quality of our drawings and renderings that has been the basis of our growth,” said Zielsdorf. “Vectorworks allows us to use one file from the start, beginning at the conceptual phase and moving into construction, all while letting us pull out reports and diagrams to communicate our design to anyone who needs to see it. Vectorworks is an incredibly important part of our process.” 

Imagining the potential of a site and bringing it to reality with stunning visualizations is Roberts’ favorite aspect of his work. “Yes, the economy has gotten better, but I think that our recent success can be attributed to more than that,” he said. “All of us have worked really hard to create detailed visualizations, and it’s changed how people look at our firm and what we do. This will be our best year ever, and our business has grown as a result of the visualization and project development tools that Vectorworks has made available to us.”

Images courtesy of Pacific Coast Land Design