UC Irvine Naturescape Vision Plan

UC Irvine Naturescape Vision Plan

In the creation of the University of California Irvine’s Naturescape Vision Plan, the Planning Department focused on the establishment of a main campus botanical garden, centered in the existing Aldrich Park. The garden enhances existing landscape areas to support academic and cultural uses, wellness and recreation, and community engagement, as well as serve as the core connector between the Ecological and Research linkages: The San Joaquin Marsh, Ecological Preserve, and Anteater Drive. The Garden celebrates the Mediterranean Biome and focuses on ecosystem-based, geographically-based, and culturally-based plant collections.

Studio-MLA led a multi-disciplinary team in the development of this botanical garden as the campus core, while simultaneously linking a series of trails throughout the region to connect the existing ecological preserves adjacent to the campus. Aldrich Park, at the center of the UCI campus, operates as the heart with radiating spokes. Each spoke is themed – water, art, ecology, research and wellness – and the new botanic garden is where all of these elements converge, creating new synergies between disciplines.

The creation of this interconnected open space system envelops all built structures of the UCI campus, as well extends out through the Irvine region, to serve both campus life and community activities, art and culture, habitat and watershed management, recreation, wellness, and interdisciplinary teaching and research. This living laboratory puts to practice what we learn and value, through parks, greenbelts, community and botanical gardens, trails and pathways, teaching pavilions, field research sites, upland and wetland habitat, and urban outdoor spaces. This once-in-a-generation opportunity allows UCI to develop a campus asset with the potential to distinguish this institution among universities worldwide.


University of California, Irvine


1,500 acres


Irvine, California



Project team

  • Grimshaw Architect
  • Sherwood Engineers Civil Engineer and Sustainable Water Strategies
  • RSM Signage & Wayfinding
  • Cumming Cost Estimator


  • 2022 Southern California Development Forum,
    Design & Philanthropy Citation Award
  • 2021 ASLA Southern California, Analysis & Planning Merit Award