Container Spotlight: Quartyard

What does a city do with a large vacant lot?

If you’re in the East Village of downtown San Diego, you build the Quartyard.

Quartyard describes itself as “your city block”, an urban park and event venue that’s open seven days a week.

Quartyard in San Diego

How Quartyard Came About


In 2015, the city of San Diego was looking to solve an issue in their downtown east village.

There was a 25,000 square foot vacant lot in the area, with no immediate plans for occupancy.

Design firm RAD LAB took on the challenge of creating a space to occupy these vacant spaces.

Quartyard is a temporary placeholder for future development, occupying a space before moving to another location.

Quartyard's Journey

The ease of moving is all thanks to the recycled shipping containers that were used to build the venue.

Quartyard is a year-round type of pop up shop that would appear on random vacant lots in San Diego.

Several teams and personnel within the community helped and eventually became activators.

Some of the activators involved with Quartyard include:

  • The city of San Diego
  • Free Form Construction
  • Best Beverage Catering
  • Downtown San Diego partnership
  • It’s Far Out

Challenge Accepted by RAD LAB


As mentioned above, local design firm RAD LAB was no stranger to working with companies to develop new and unique customer experiences.

Using shipping containers as their design base, RAD LAB has completed several projects including the Saltwater Farm in Washington and Taco Bell’s first container restaurant in 2020.

The original Quartyard was part of a thesis project for the students at the New School of Architecture and Design, who would later become the design firm of RAD LAB.

Using 10 shipping containers to create the environment, Quartyard was designed to fit the idea of ‘everyone’s backyard’.

The outdoor area contains:

  • A coffee shop
  • A dog park
  • A beer garden
  • Music venue

For the first iteration, rotating food trucks would cater to those looking for a quick bite to eat.

A Community Project


What makes the Quartyard stand out is how RAD LAB encouraged residents in the neighborhood and community to suggest what they wanted to see.

When the building fences around the lot went up, a board was placed for people to write down what they’d like to see the venue hold.

Overwhelmingly, people wanted a place to gather and hang out.

Yoga Event at Quartyard

With the community’s support, the first Quartyard was a success.

In fact, it was such a success that in 2018, when the original lot was sold for development, the venue was moved to another lot.

2 years later, Quartyard is enjoying it’s new location only a short distance from where it first became a reality.

It has become somewhat of a staple in the East Village neighborhood.

Quartyard Today


It’s been five years since Quartyard first opened in San Diego’s East Village and it continues to be popular today.

There have been some adjustments, however.

Due to the corona virus in the US and the rest of the world, some of the popular events have been postponed or closed.

The dog park, for instance, closed as of June 2020 and at one point, their popular Sunday Brunches had to stop, but are thankfully back for residents to enjoy.

It’s also pushed back their five year anniversary party and postponed any and all music events.

But it has not stopped Quartyard from giving back to the community.

The month of July began their first summer art program to feature local artists.

At the end of the month, they invited artist Espana Garcia Feucht to paint on site and decorate the Quartyard.

In this article, we spotlighted Quartyard in San Diego, a unique community hangout for the East Village neighborhood.

Quartyard continues to serve as a model for cities across the US who are looking for unique economic ways to reinvent blighted lots, while also embracing the community.

To find out more about the Quartyard, check out their website or visit them on 1301 Market St in San Diego.