The Irvine Exhibit is probably the most elaborate you'll ever see, even without a Van Gogh or a Matisse.
It is displayed throughout 20,000 square feet on two floors of the Irvine Co.'s Jamboree Center, at 2 Park Place in Irvine, with all the ambiance of a modern museum.
But there are none of the expected oils, watercolors or sculptures in sight.
Instead, if offers a kaleidoscopic series of audio-visual components, transforming the architecture and the planning used throughout the Irvine Ranch master plan, into minutely-detailed and colorful site and project models, related wall-mounted locator maps of such "products" as Executive Park, MacArthur Court and Jamboree Center, and laser beams to highlight specific points.
The detailing of the various models is so fine that residents of Irvine or Newport Beach can actually locate their homes.
The exhibit, taking two years to plan and complete, puts into excellent, easily understood perspective about 150 square miles of some of Southern California's most prized areas.
It opens Monday--by appointment only for business customers and community leaders--as a significant business marketing center, using sound and music, multiple screens (showing 20,000 slides) and three dimensional site models in minuscule exterior and interior details.
It may well be the most elaborate and costly marketing tool and progress report in the business. Its cost is not divulged, but it's all first cabin.
"The exhibit reflects the results and values of the Irvine Co.'s planning efforts over the past 25 years and provides a focal point for the present and future product opportunities," says Samuel E. Haynes, vice president of marketing communications for the firm. "It weaves all the messages of the past, present and future into this new point of reference."
Thomas H. Nielsen, president, adds:
"We wanted to show people how all the pieces fit together. We wanted to show where some of these ideas we had a quarter of a century ago came from and where they're going today."
Ownership of the ranch started with an immigrant Scots-Irishman named James Irvine. He had acquired title to a Spanish land grant more than a century ago.
But the beginning of the ranch's modern development was started in 1959 by the late architect-planner, William Pereira, commissioned to provide a master plan for residential and commercial use; the Irvine plan has since been recognized as a landmark effort.
Haynes said the Irvine Exhibit bears witness to the resiliency of Pereira's plan and vision. After three decades, the architectural blueprint is not only still largely in place, its flexibility and effectiveness can be seen and enjoyed every day.
In that regard, the exhibit highlights the critical role of local, county and state governing bodies, stressing the importance of continuing compromise and communication.
"From the beginning, there has been an emphasis on the human values behind the master planning process," Haynes said.
A focal point of the exhibit is a high-resolution area model covering the communities of Irvine and Newport Beach and portions of neighboring Costa Mesa, Santa Ana, Tustin, El Toro, Lake Forest, Laguna Hills and Laguna Beach.
This 14-by-15-foot model includes about 300,000 individual structures within the area, from Newport Bay to the Santa Ana mountain foothills, and from Costa Mesa to Laguna Beach. A hydraulic lift can raise and lower the half-ton model.
Another model highlights the Irvine Business Complex, including a proposed research-and-development park planned jointly by the company and UC Irvine. The new 800-acre Westpark residential community is shown too, adjacent to the Jamboree Center, with its planned civic center, parks, retail areas, churches and a day-care center.
The models appear to the floor-level viewer as they might look from a plane at an altitude of 5,000 feet, and other models to be completed and added to the exhibit this summer include one for Newport Center, Irvine Spectrum and the company's retail projects.
The Irvine Co., already Orange County's largest home builder, plans to become its largest retail developer too, under terms of a recently announced $775-million retail growth plan.
Newport Center, undergoing a $115-million "renaissance," will feature a Mediterranean theme for Fashion Island, and has just opened the company's newest project, the Four Seasons Hotel, across from Fashion Island.
The Irvine Spectrum is a continually expanding international center for research, technology and business at the highly strategic juncture of the San Diego and Santa Ana freeways. It is currently home for more than 160 companies with 12,000 employees.
Meanwhile, the visible stars of the Irvine Exhibit are:
MacArthur Court, mid- and low-rise office buildings offering 600,000 square feet on an 18-acre site opposite John Wayne Airport.
Jamboree Center, on Jamboree Boulevard at Main Street in Irvine, a commercial office project of 1.6-million square feet on a 46-acre site, including the Irvine Hilton Hotel.
Three of the other stars are artisans, Lawrence Marshall of Toronto, who produced the audio-visual components; David H. Gibson of Dallas, master model maker, and Ken Parkhurst, Los Angeles-based graphic designer.
Their craftsmanship is a piece of art in itself.