Irvine was planned to be a city of intellect

Before the first spade of dirt was turned, Irvine was master planned to be a city of intellect, built around a university.

BEFORE THE FIRST SPADE of dirt was turned, Irvine was master planned to be a city of intellect, built around a university.

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.

Excellence in education achieved over 60 years


The Master Plan has situated elementary schools in the middle of villages to encour- age parent involvement and community partnerships. Irvine Unified School District’s test scores, college preparation and teacher qualifications rank high among its peers, and it was recently named the No. 1 school district in Orange County by Niche, an online data analysis company.

IUSD Superintendent Terry Walker.


UC Irvine, one of the youngest campuses in the University of California system, is known for academic achievement, premier research, innovation and its anteater mascot. The campus produced three Nobel laureates and has more STEM graduates than USC and Stanford combined. It is ranked a top 10 public university by U.S. News and World Report.

University of California, Irvine campus.


In addition to UC Irvine, there are 15 colleges in the city. Irvine Valley has the highest transfer rate to four-year universities among all community colleges in California. Satellite campuses for USC, Pepperdine University, Chapman University and others also offer residents the opportunity to earn a B.S., B.A., M.B.A. or a Ph.D. – day or night.

Irvine Valley College graduate.


Irvine’s commitment to learning, at all levels, has resulted in a highly educated population in which 72% of residents hold a bachelor’s degree or higher – tops in America. And 32% of residents hold a master’s degree or higher – No. 2 in America. This has attracted the offices of one-third of all Fortune 500 companies to the city.

Dr. Daniela Bota, UCI clinical researcher.