The decision that created the Master Plan

Today’s City of Irvine grew out of plans to create UC Irvine

by Tracy Childs

In June of 1958, officials from Irvine Company and the University of California agreed to locate the UC’s 9th campus — the future UC Irvine — in the middle of The Irvine Ranch.

That historic decision 60 years ago established UCI as the catalyst of the Irvine Master Plan — and cast the die that established education as the cornerstone of the city’s growth, character and acclaim.

As a result, the City of Irvine is renowned as one of America’s best public school districts — and its uncommon commitment to quality education.

“Our students and staff have significantly benefited from our partnership with UCI,” said Terry Walker, superintendent of the Irvine Unified School District. “Our collaboration with a variety of UCI departments directly support student-learning experiences in key areas, including science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.”

Walker said IUSD teachers also benefit through “critical connections” with UCI staff and by participating in university-level professional development opportunities. “UCI continues to be a valued and innovative Irvine institution.”

UC Irvine opened in October 1965. In the relatively brief span of time since it has distinguished itself as the nation’s 9th best public university.

“From the beginning, our founders had in mind a new paradigm of public-private partnership, so the master plan for the campus and the master plan for the City of Irvine were designed as one,” UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman said. “That was the start of it all.”

One of America’s most innovative universities

UCI Student Center

UCI annually welcomes students from all reaches of the globe, choosing paths of learning from among 192-degree programs.

From academic programs in biological sciences, engineering, and the humanities, to research centers exploring water and energy, epilepsy and global peace, UCI is admired as one of America’s most innovative universities. Three of its faculty have won Nobel Prizes — two in chemistry and one in physics.

Business leaders say UCI’s presence is a key factor in Irvine’s track record of attracting thousands of companies large and small — and the abundance of nearby jobs they provide for residents.

“There’s no disputing UCI’s influence on Irvine’s exceptionally strong business climate,” said Bryan Starr, president, and CEO of the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce. “The city is home to 49 of the top 100 publicly traded US companies. We have more jobs per resident than any city in America. Literally, tens of thousands of companies are located here.

“A key attraction is UCI and its nationally leading research and innovation, and, of course, it’s talented pool of graduates.”

‘City of intellect’
As a result of its parallel history and growth with UCI — all guided by the Irvine Master Plan — Irvine has earned the distinction of being a “city of intellect.”

“The University of California started off on the right foot 60 years ago when they hired William Pereira to work with the Irvine Company and the Regents in master planning a world-class campus,” William Woollett Jr., Irvine’s founding city manager, said.

“I think one of UCI’s most important contributions to Irvine has been its people. They’ve contributed an incredibly high level of sophistication and knowledge to the community.”

60 years ago…

Irvine Company Master Plan

 

It took months of back-and-forth negotiations, but in 1958, Irvine Company offered 1,000 acres to the University of California on which to build UC Irvine. Here’s a brief timeline of events that led to the decision:

  • 1957: UC hires famed urban planner William Pereira to help find a site
  • 1958: Over many other possible locations, Pereira lobbies for The Irvine Ranch
  • 1958: Irvine Company offers land to UC for one dollar; UC accepts
  • 1959: Irvine Company commissions Pereira to create a Master Plan for the entire ranch
  • 1960: Irvine Company and UC officials publicly announce the Irvine Master Plan