New Vision for Southern California’s Great Park

The newly unveiled comprehensive plan includes a botanical garden, museums, and a 22-acre lake system.

1 minute read

April 24, 2023, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

View from below of orange tethered hot-air balloon floating in blue sky

The iconic Orange Balloon floats above Irvine’s Great Park. | mikeledray / Orange Balloon, Great Park, Irvine, California

Designers revealed new plans for the park known as ‘California’s Central Park,’ Irvine’s Great Park, a 1,200-acre site in Southern California’s Orange County, reports Chris Walton in The Architect’s Newspaper.

A master plan from Ken Smith Workshop was first selected by the city in 2006, but has remained largely unfinished. The city lost a key funding source with the end of municipal development agencies in 2011. As Walton explains, “The city then negotiated with a development company, FivePoint, to construct high-end single family housing around the park.” Funding for the park’s new plan, approved in 2022, comes in part from taxes paid by the homeowners.

Walton details the new plan, which includes a museum complex, a 22-acre lake system, a botanical garden, and an aquatics center. “A large promenade will connect the park’s five components, and will include tram stops and bike storage facilities. This is key as the Irvine Transportation Center—which provides bus, Amtrak, and Metrolink service—is located across from the Southwest side of the park.”

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