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City Center Bishop Ranch Opens in San Ramon

The modern public square offers top retail, dining, and entertainment experiences.


The new City Center Bishop Ranch—seen here in a rendering—will host regular farmers markets as well as a holiday celebration November 28 through 30.

Photo by Sunset Development Company

The much-anticipated City Center Bishop Ranch—a multifaceted project that combines retail, entertainment, dining, culture, and special events—debuts this month, with its first tenants opening their doors for business. Designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Renzo Piano, the appealingly accessible property features glass-sheathed pavilions surrounding a large square with a lush lawn, sculpture garden, and ample seating.

Piano, whose acclaimed body of work includes the Pompidou Center in Paris and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, was inspired by the layout of cities in his native Italy, where central piazzas serve as public gathering spaces. Working with the site’s owner, Sunset Development, Piano and his team set out to build a lively commons for people coming from the adjacent Bishop Ranch office park and the San Ramon community, as well as the entire region. Accordingly, they have created an environment where “the car seemingly by magic disappears and leaves the place to the human being,” as Piano and partner Antonio Belvedere wrote in their design statement.

The pavilions that flank the plaza include some 300,000 square feet of retail space, with many high-profile shops, restaurants, and businesses on the tenant list. These include a 10-screen luxury movie theater called The Lot, a state-of-the-art Equinox fitness center, Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, West Elm, and Athleta. On the dining front, several local favorites will be represented, such as chef Charles Phan’s Slanted Door restaurant (the esteemed eatery’s first location outside San Francisco), Berkeley-based Fieldwork Brewing Company, salad restaurant MIXT, and Mendocino Farms’ sandwich market.

One not-to-be-missed new venture is M, a concept store developed by model Maggie Rizer that showcases apparel from cutting-edge designers. Rizer brings her chic sensibility to M, which promises to be one of the area’s most exciting boutiques. Additionally, the fashion-​forward crowd will want to check out the 10 spaces set aside for smaller, locally based pop-up shops—or retail incubators, as City Center refers to them—which will rotate in and out and sell everything from stylish women’s hats to ultramodern children’s wear.

With its efforts to encourage enterprises and experiences of all kinds, City Center is poised to be a dynamic and continually evolving locus of activity. After all, as the Renzo Piano Building Workshop has noted, the project’s overarching goal is to create “a destination as well as a starting point for future growth.” citycenterbishopranch.com.


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