Orange County Great Park

Orange County Great Park

The Comprehensive Master Plan for the Orange County Great Park outlines a vision for a new kind of park. Here, new ideas for social and environmental sustainability are investigated and tested, and the citizens of Orange County become key participants in imagining these new ideas to create a healthier and more sustainable future. The project site is located on the former Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro, which after being decommissioned in 1999, the City of Irvine was eager to reclaim the brownfield site and transform it into a regional park. The design team won an international competition sponsored by the Orange County Great Park Corporation, a non-profit organization charged with the responsibility of designing, implementing, and maintaining the Great Park. The Master Plan proposed a vision to transform the former military site into a verdant landscape for a diversity of public uses including: transit oriented development adjacent to the park, connection to nearby public transit, a sports park with multiple recreation fields, a cultural terrace comprised of a diversity of cultural institutions, a botanic garden, a daylighted stream, constructed wetlands, wildlife habitat corridors and community gardens, and a productive farm.

The Great Park is three unique park experiences cohesively intertwined into one. The Canyon Park – a beautiful oasis to wander and daydream, for families to picnic and for children to explore, that includes a meditation garden and various special plantings. The Habitat Park – an ecological backbone that provides species diversity, native communities, and wildlife. The Fields and Memorial Park – a commemoration of the history of the site as both a productive agricultural landscape and more recently, a military base. Through these experiences, the Great Park knit together the diverse communities and cultures of Southern California while restoring the region’s natural heritage. It sets new standards for sustainability, ecological responsibility, and public space as well as provides a unique place to visit, relax, recreate and meet people. The Orange County Great Park Comprehensive Master Plan was adopted by the Irvine City Council in 2007 with a collaborative planning and design effort implemented to phase the park areas over time.


Orange County Great Park Corporation


1,350 Acres


Irvine, California


2008 Master Plan
2011 First 300 Acres

Project team

  • Ken Smith Workshop Lead
  • TEN Arquitectos Architect
  • WRNS Architect
  • Fuscoe Engineering Lead Engineer
  • BuroHappold Structural Engineer
  • Green Shield Ecologist
  • LSA Environmental Consultant
  • Mary Miss Studio Artist
  • Wallace Labs Soil Specialist


  • 2009 American Institute of Architects, Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design
  • 2009 American Society of Landscape Architects,
    National Honor Award for Research
  • 2008 American Institute of Architects, California Chapter,
    Honor Award in Regional and Urban Planning
  • 2008 American Planning Association, Forced Issue Plan Award
  • 2008 American Planning Association, California Chapter, Forced Issue Plan Award
  • 2008 American Planning Association, Orange County Chapter,
    Forced Issue Plan Award
  • 2008 American Society of Landscape Architects,
    National Award for Analysis and Planning
  • 2007 California Society for Ecological Restoration, Members Award