William Pereira worked with Irvine Company to create the Irvine Master Plan. A 1963 Time magazine cover story praised Pereira and the company for their visionary design of Irvine as a new “center of learning.”

A city of intellect

by TOM BERG

A piece of history: In 1964, then-Gov. Edmund Brown wrote this letter to UC Irvine for its dedication, noting, “In the years to come, a great university and community will rise at Irvine.”

If you want to know why Irvine celebrates education, here’s your answer: the city was master-planned around education from day one. The man behind this idea was architect William Pereira, a towering intellect who designed the 1933 World’s Fair, the Transamerica Pyramid and more than 400 buildings throughout his life.

In 1957, the University of California hired him to scout cities for its next campus, which he would design.

Pereira identified more than a dozen cities, but his favorite spot for a new campus wasn’t a city at all. It was The Irvine Ranch.

It shared all the qualities of great universities he’d studied in France, Italy and ancient Greece: a contemplative setting, a sense of place – and adequate land to grow.

Pereira took his recommendation to the University of California regents.

“With meticulous eloquence, Pereira made his dream come alive,” according to the late Ray Watson, an Irvine Company president who worked closely with Pereira.

Irvine Company donated 1,000 acres for the UC Irvine campus and asked Pereira to design the new city of Irvine around the university as a “city of intellect.”

Together, Pereira and Irvine Company created the Irvine Master Plan as a collection of villages that emanated out from the university, with each village centered around local schools.

In 1963, a Time magazine cover story praised Pereira and Irvine Company for their visionary design of Irvine as a new “center of learning.”

To this day, his legacy continues in classrooms throughout Irvine. Founded on education, Irvine is now recognized worldwide for its academic excellence – and has become the most educated city in America.