Decision Point #5: Designing the Heart of the City

If open space is the soul of Irvine, the Irvine Spectrum District is its heart.

The Irvine Master Plan identified the land as the “Regional Triangle” — a 5,000-acre swath of strawberry fields between the then-new I-405 and I-5 freeways.

The original plan anticipated commercial uses, but it came to life in 1983 when Irvine Company Chairman Donald Bren made plans for what he called a “future jobs hub” and the “center of Irvine’s energy.”

The vision was to bring the world’s leading companies and their high-paying jobs to Irvine, especially in the burgeoning technology and life sciences sectors.

To attract these industries, the district was designed around Irvine Spectrum Center and its collection of restaurants, shops and entertainment venues. It also came to include residential communities.

In 1998, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Spectrum District had been built with extraordinary and unique precision.

“Indeed, the Irvine Spectrum is strikingly close to Irvine Company’s original vision.” The story continued, “It was the early attention to the little things — the architectural and landscaping details— that made a difference … when nothing and no one was there.”

Today’s Irvine Spectrum District has emerged as the economic powerhouse originally envisioned. It is home to more than 3,500 companies, employing 100,000 local residents.