Location: Irvine, California

Client: University of California, Irvine

Johnson Fain’s involvement with the University of California Irvine campus pre-dates the campus itself, as the founding principal of our predecessor firm, William L. Pereira, was instrumental in convincing the Regents to locate its eighth campus in the new town of Irvine. Over the ensuing 45 years, the firm prepared (1) the original master plan for the 1500-acre site, (2) Long Range Development Plan updates incorporating “inclusion areas” for public-private research; (3) an urban design plan for a “Main Street” campus center; and (4) Cal (IT)2, an interdisciplinary research center, the newest building on the campus.

A primary targeted neighborhood in the Long Range Development Plan was the administrative area and an anticipated “town center;” the subsequent urban design became “Main Street,” which received national AIA and Progressive Architecture design awards. “Main Street” establishes a pedestrian-oriented urban focus in the suburban campus. The concept of a retail street brings typically “outside” services onto the campus and is considered a breakthrough in campus planning in its linkage to the surrounding community. It also creates a place that fulfills the daily needs of a burgeoning campus population and is easily accessible on foot or bicycle.

The program accommodates 450,000 square feet of mixed academic, retail, service, administrative, and cultural uses. The plan, organized into four conceptual zones, integrates the Main Street development with the campus’ park-like background. Four zones provide transitional spaces and activities for the pedestrian: from the urban, mixed-use Main Street to a series of landscaped semi-public courtyard to a set of academic buildings-in-the-park and finally to the “romantic” Aldrich Park. UCI Main Street received the Progressive Architecture design award for “outstanding work in Architecture and related environmental design.”