The Project Of The Century

“The goal with our public designs is to create spaces that embrace the area’s cultural legacies while meeting a community’s desire to develop viable public facilities and places. It’s also critical to design with the flexibility to allow future generations to utilize the public realm in ways that are consistent with their needs in a sensitive and permanent manner.”

Sustainable Plans

Because of the importance of the park to the region, the park’s designer and managers are focused on the park’s contribution to energy, water, and transportation. With a sustainable plan in mind, officials are well on their way to showing a real commitment to incorporating recycling, remediation, and creative redevelopment into the plan:

Energy–The park plans to install significant renewable-energy generation on-site. Along with major photovoltaics, site lighting will have small photovoltaic cells attached to lamp posts to charge small batteries that will power the lights at night.

Recycling–There are more than 600 acres of hard pavement in the site to be removed, and 120 buildings to be dismantled and recycled. All pavements will be recycled at a recycling center. Gravels and cobbles will be reused for infiltration media and roadbed support. Large slabs of concrete dubbed “El Toro stone” will be stacked for retaining walls and waterfalls, as well as for trail steps.

Water conservation and quality–The park will have an array of natural treatment systems. Basically, all areas developed with buildings, roads, and other facilities will integrate best-management practices, such as porous pavement, structural-infiltration devices, and litter- and debris-entrapment vaults. The park’s irrigation system is designed to maintain optimum plant health while conserving and protecting water resources and the environment.

Hydrology–The park will develop a sustainable hydrology of natural streams and engineered water features. Reclaimed water from the groundwater-reclamation plant will be used to supplement stream flow.

Roadways–Runoff in the streets will be captured through bio-swales, infiltration/exfiltration trenches, bio-infiltration, and bottomless catch basins. Convenient, expedient, and efficient travelways dedicated for buses and future trolley service provide alternatives to cars. Improving shade and reducing heat are accomplished through enhanced tree canopy, permeable paving, curbless edges, and reflective-colored material.

Trail system–Trail systems will be used to promote walking and biking. They will operate from promenades that take visitors directly to their destination, while other trails will meander, allowing for a range of experiences that can include walking, jogging, and biking. Whether arriving by car or public transportation, the macro trail system will allow direct access across the park.

Transportation–Reducing auto dependence is the key to reducing carbon emissions (i.e., greenhouse gas) and maintaining air quality. The park’s internal transportation system includes multiple, overlapping transit modes, enabling visitors to park once in a contiguous parking lot, leaving their vehicles for the day.

Site remediation–The Navy Department is underway with its remediation of contaminated sites within the former base property, the accumulation of 60 years of flight and military operations. Compared to other older bases, the contaminated areas are clearly identified and delineated.

The vision for the Orange County Great Park is to inspire people to rethink their connections to nature, history, the built environment, and the community. The goal is to generate and demonstrate new ideas, insights, and technologies revolving around the environment, economy, and social connections, challenging visitors to appreciate the beauty and complexity of our world and to make changes in their own lives to help preserve it.

Christine Rombouts is a freelance writer who covers the real-estate and related industries in California. She can be reached at


A Confluence Of Community And Nature

The Orange County Great Park exists for everyone, reflecting the interests, values, cultures, and social and ethnic backgrounds of Southern California residents from all walks of life. Key elements include:

Sports Park And Fields

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