Located just minutes south of Costa Mesa, Orange County Great Park in Irvine is a vast land space that will become a physical representation of the natural, historical and cultural roots of Orange County.
Upon completion, the Orange County Great Park will cover more than 1,300 acres, transforming the former El Toro Air Base into one of the world’s greatest metropolitan parks. In 2002, the City of Irvine annexed a parcel of land for the great park, in addition to the area of land used as the air base. A very public venture, open debates, votes and discussions were held to determine the outcome of the great park. Through an international design competition, dozens of design firms used the public’s general ideas to formulate a detailed master plan for the park. Once the design was chosen, the public continued to play a vital role in the transformation of the park through open dialog and other collaborative efforts with the design team.
The park’s concept is to be more than just an oasis for relaxation and serenity. The idea behind the design is to fit the regional needs for recreation, an outlet for cultural amenities, a natural heritage and a place where ideas for sustainability will be tested.
The Great Park’s initial design was unveiled to the public in 2006. Construction has been broken down into phases, with the first phase from 2010-2012. The first phase includes: over 200 acres of land, Kid’s Rock interpretive playground, the Carousel, Palm Court Arts Complex for events, South Lawn with three lighted soccer fields, North Lawn with multi-purpose fields, 9-acre bike trail and walk-able timeline, Farm & Food Lab, 14-acre picnic meadow, Orange Grove barriers, Hangar 244 renovation and many other infrastructure enhancements.
The Great Park has already received several design awards for its design and for its innovative plans for sustainability. One way in which the great park honors its history is through the VALOR (Veteran’s Agricultural Learning – Opportunities & Resources) program where veterans of any branch of military can apply to be educated through hands-on work for employment in the agricultural industry. The curriculum is designed to help veterans develop skills that will enable them to gain employment in urban-agriculture.
Other sustainability goals is to include the Wildlife Corridor, which is off limits to the general public, but will serve as a sanctuary for local wildlife. The Great Park will be equipped with advance water treatment systems that will clean water in the park and help recycle water to use for irrigation. These systems will keep water usage to a minimum. Getting to the park will be easy, even those without a car. The city of Irvine’s bike paths will connect to several paths throughout the park and the Irvine mass transit station is just a short walk for visitors who take the train. The Great Park will also install several renewable energy lights throughout the park that will cut electricity costs and usage.
The Great Park currently does not have a specific physical address. For directions, visit the website.