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Atrium Open With 60% of Space Taken : Twin-Towered Irvine Complex Has Won 4 Architectural Honors

November 15, 1987

The striking, twin-towered Atrium office complex in Irvine, with four architectural awards to its credit, held its formal opening Saturday and is 60% leased.

Coincidental with the opening, the first branch of Bistango, a fashionable Beverly Hills restaurant, opened its doors on the ground floor of the $100-million development. It offers French/California cuisine in its contemporary setting.

The remaining 40% of the 335,000-square-foot project is expected to be leased by early 1988, according to Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate Services. Major tenants already include Merrill Lynch, General Electric Credit Corp., Home Federal Savings, Manufacturers Life Insurance and Skaggs Cos.

High-Rise Cited

The Atrium, at 19100-19200 Von Karman Ave., was developed by the Irvine-based French & McKenna Co. It was most recently cited by the Orange County chapter, National Assn. of Industrial and Office Parks, at its second annual awards dinner as an outstanding example of an office/professional high-rise. WZMH Group Inc., of Los Angeles was the architect.

Last June, the Atrium garnered Gold Nugget honors in the Pacific Coast Builders Conference and later won both a special theme award and an award of merit in a competition sponsored by the Orange County chapter, American Institute of Architects. Its judges described the Atrium as "the most provocative and interesting office complex" in Orange County.

Developers Tony French and Chuck McKenna, pointing to the structure's functionality, acknowledged that "no matter how elegant the building and its amenities, most companies would not lease space unless it was efficient."

Merrill Lynch, which had considered more than 15 other sites, selected the Irvine project because of its location, its design and its functional space, according to Arlen Crouch, regional director. It leased 11,000 square feet, the entire 10th floor of one of the towers.

Met His Criteria

John Ghoukassian, owner of the Bistango restaurant, said the Atrium "is the only building in the area that meets the style and location criteria I established when I decided to open an additional facility in Orange County." Michael Carapetian designed the restaurant, accenting it with modern art and architectural elements.

The twin towers are spanned by the glass atrium and are sheathed by polished dark green slate from England's Lake District. The floors and entry areas also contain the hand-cleaved slate.

The French & McKenna project portfolio includes office buildings and industrial and research and development projects in Orange County.

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