MVRDV - Military airfield becomes cultural hub: MVRDV selected as part of design team for Cultural Terrace project in Irvine, California

Military airfield becomes cultural hub: MVRDV selected as part of design team for Cultural Terrace project in Irvine, California

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The City of Irvine awarded the contract for Cultural Terrace, the transformation of a former military airfield into a major cultural complex, to a distinguished design team led by IBI Group and including MVRDV, local architects MAAM, and landscape architecture firm Agency Artifact. Consulting firms Buro Happold, Langan Engineering, and Rider Levett Bucknall will also play a critical role in the evolution of Cultural Terrace.

Located adjacent to Irvine’s Great Park on a 110-acre parcel of the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, the Cultural Terrace will combine the adaptive re-use of two 140,000 sf hangars and a 40,000 sf warehouse, with a dynamic revisioning of the surrounding landscape. Some programs proposed for the Cultural Terrace are a museum complex, library, event space, community centre, and City offices. In addition, multi-purpose outdoor spaces will connect the buildings and offer valuable new public space for the people of Orange County.


The Cultural Terrace will combine the adaptive re-use of two 140,000 sf hangars and a 40,000 sf warehouse, with a dynamic revisioning of the surrounding landscape. Image © Agency Artifact

 


The collaborative team is diverse in its design expertise, cultural backgrounds, local knowledge, and building experience – all requirements to meet the needs of an equally diverse local community. MVRDV partner Fokke Moerel stated, “We are very excited to work on one of the most important cultural projects in Southern California, especially on a project that adapts existing structures and sites, rather than building anew. The Cultural Terrace will demonstrate how a sustainable reuse approach can create one-of-a-kind cultural experiences.”

As part of the design process, the Cultural Terrace team will conduct a series of workshops to develop a programme based on the needs of the community. Says landscape architect Chris Torres of Agency Artifact, “This site has an important history in Orange County and now is ready to be transformed into a dynamic public space for Irvine in the 21st century.”

While the built portion of Great Park honours and reflects the history of the former air base, the Cultural Terrace will build upon that history with an eye towards the future. Meredith McDaniel of MAAM explains, “My grandfather was stationed at El Toro during Vietnam, so I have an appreciation for the legacy of this site. Now, as designers, we are asking ‘How can we apply the ingenuity and aspirations of those engineers and aviators who worked on this base towards a whole new set of cultural opportunities?’”

To that end, the design team believes that there are productive partnership opportunities to be found in which the City of Irvine could join forces with local innovators and thought leaders to generate dynamic programs and workshops within the re-imagined hangars. Yancey Clayton of IBI, who will be overseeing the team, notes “There is such a robust culture of innovation in Irvine and Southern California. By tapping into that talent, we can expand the definition of a cultural centre for the 21st century.”

In that future-thinking vein, a top priority of the team is to create a carbon-neutral campus that contributes to the City’s ACHIEVES resolution under the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. As Mariam Mojdehi of MAAM states, “We see opportunities for the Cultural Terrace to be a teaching tool, making as much of the sustainability infrastructure, energy usage, and monitoring as visible and participatory as possible.”


The design team of IBI Group, MVRDV, MAAM, and Agency Artifact visited the site in December 2021. Image © IBI Group