A recent Urban Land article indicates that housing behaviors for both millennials and baby boomers are defying assumptions about the wide-spread desire to live in cities. Answering that trend is an emerging community-focused landscape which aims to provide the best of both worlds: ample opportunity to enjoy natural surroundings, and enough high-quality social amenities to keep busy, but only if one chooses to.
Esencia at Rancho Mission Viejo is the recipient of the 2019 NAHB Master Planned Community of the Year Award. The second in a series of planned communities there, Esencia is integrated into a 17,000-acre open space preserve in the hills of South Orange County. The surrounding oak canyons, creeks and orchards set the stage for a vibrant development that preserves, protects, and enhances the natural landform and its agricultural and ranching legacy.

“Escensia immerses its residents into ranch life,” says landscape architect Sean O’Malley, the master planner for Rancho Mission Viejo and Managing Principal of SWA’s Laguna Beach studio. “Community gardens and docent-led tours into the surrounding natural preserve remind us of where we live, and the importance of caring for this precious resource.”

This unique hill town in Rancho Mission Viejo serves intergenerational homeowners, offering countless opportunities for new experiences that help to create community. Neighborhoods for couples, families and adventurous empty-nesters coexist harmoniously with a robust network of ranch-themed social gathering spaces including: they include a working farm, coffee bar, event spaces, gym, tot lot, yurt campground, maker spaces, adventure playgrounds, and outdoor dining rooms.

“Esencia exemplifies the future of planned communities, through its attention to the special place in which it is built, its care in providing a diversity of homes to welcome a broad community, and its ability to connect those people around shared common spaces,” says Andrew Watkins, a Laguna Beach-based SWA principal and urban designer.

Also the recipient of PCBC’s “2018 Master Plan Community of the Year” and “Best Community Land Plan” Awards, Esencia offers both millennials and aging boomers a sustainable, multi-layered vision for suburbs that provide something for everyone.