Originally published in Interiors & Sources

10/13/2008

Future Iconic Features of CA's Great Park Revealed

 

Three iconic features will complete the 27.5-acre Preview Park in Irvine, CA.  The features are the Palm Court, a new performance area, and a visitor center called the "Pod." The Preview Park is a "park within a park" to prototype the kind of spaces and programs that will become part of the larger Great Park. 


POD RENDERING: COURTESY ORANGE COUNTY GREAT PARK DESIGN STUDIO

"The Great Park continues to successfully grow," says Larry Agran, chair of the Orange County Great Park Board Corp. "In addition to the Great Park Balloon, the Picnic Lawn, and the Hangar Cafe, these new iconic elements will set the stage for the Great Park's future."

The Orange County Great Park is one of the largest public works projects in the United States. It will be a major metropolitan park and the focal point of the redevelopment of the 4,700-acre former Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro. The Great Park will include extensive natural areas and open space in addition to recreational and cultural uses.   

Sensor technology is proposed for the Great Park that will support an intelligent and integrated maintenance and operations system. Devices such as smart lighting controls, smart security cameras, and smart irrigation system controllers will monitor park systems and automatically alert or adjust according to preprogrammed controllers. Global positioning system (GPS) is a monitoring technology that is also proposed for the park; it enables portable digital assistant (PDA) devices to upload directly to personal mobile devices with interactive media. PDAs or rented GPS devices can act as mobile video tour guides while roaming through the Great Park.

The first iconic feature of the Preview Park is the Palm Court, an open gathering space with seating and shade structures.  It will be lined with transplanted mature palm trees from the 60-year-old former Marine air base to provide lots of shade.  The historical airplane hangar within the Palm Court could be used for cafés or exhibition space.  The Palm Court will begin a tree-lined "palm parade" that will extend to the future Sports Park.

The new performance area will be a space with terraced lawns and abundant outside seating that can hold up to 3,000 people for watching concerts and events.  The area is being designed to accommodate large and small events and provide a cooler comfortable setting to enjoy events.  The performance area will also be shaded by trees transplanted from the base. 

The third iconic feature is the first of several "Pods."  Unlike the other two iconic features that focus on landscape, the Pods are functional structures or "park-itecture."  The Pods will provide essential services such as bathrooms, picnic shelters, drinking fountains, cafes, bicycle stations, and the visitors center.  The creatively designed Pods will be easily noticeable for visitors to locate.  Representatives from the Design Studio commented, "We couldn't build spaces like this 10 years ago; technology has helped us design and ultimately build more creative as well as functional buildings that will become iconic features of the Great Park."

A variety of Preview Park elements are being tested by the design team and the public.  One environmental element is a bioswale to test drainage and how water will percolate into the ground to recharge ground water.  Another element involves transforming an historic airplane hanger into a café and exhibition space.  Different types of turfs are being tested for drought tolerance.  New lighting fixtures are being designed to prevent light pollution from shining upward into the sky. 

"The Preview Park is a good tool for park designers to understand the park's features, how they will perform, and how the public will respond to each feature," says Michael Taylor, Great Park Design Team.

 

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