Engineers build a better city
Long-time residents miss the hometown atmosphere they grew up with, while newer residents love the healthy economy, the vibrant restaurants and open space that are the city’s hallmark. And of course we all love the safety, the schools and the weather.
How to balance those interests is a challenge for planners, stakeholders and city officials as Irvine continues to evolve into one of the most dynamic places in which to live, to work and to visit in California.
The success of any city is based on many factors, but one that’s easily overlooked is the infrastructure that supports it all. In Irvine, that includes the villages and parks; the roads, trails and railways; the office buildings and parking garages; the stores and shopping centers.
We often think of the master planners and landowners as those who helped build our city. But not to be overlooked are the engineers, whose scientific skill, problem-solving practicality and design imagination drive the way our world works.
The 20th century success of the Irvine Ranch owes much to an engineer named C.R. Browning, who developed the company’s innovative water management system, much of which is still in place today. Patrick Fuscoe of Irvine’s Fuscoe Engineering designed and built the village of Woodbridge when he was 27 years old, as well as many other key projects in the history of the city.
And the building that once symbolized Irvine circa 1970s-2000 is the former headquarters of Fluor Corp., a global engineering and construction firm that came of age in Irvine. Long an O.C. landmark, the Park Place buildings on Michelson Drive remain iconic.
Though it no longer has offices in Irvine, Fluor Corp. still sits solidly atop Orange County Business Journal’s 2016 Book of Lists. Among the top 25 engineering firms in Orange County that make the OCBJ list, 14 have Irvine addresses.
Many of those firms are located in the Irvine Spectrum. And if the former Fluor headquarters was the 20th century landmark of the city’s economy, there seems no doubt that the twin Irvine Spectrum towers, one topped off and clad in gleaming glass, the other a steel superstructure rising into the sky, will be the Spectrum’s most visible landmarks for this century.
Named 200 Spectrum and 400 Spectrum, when both are complete they’ll be the tallest buildings in the county, and approach Cesar Pelli’s silver skyscraper near South Coast Plaza as the most beautiful.
There are many types of engineers, of course. They don’t just help build buildings. And The Henry Samueli School of Engineering at UCI has degree programs for most all of them, including 12 undergraduate degree majors and 10 graduate degree programs. The school, founded in 1965, was renamed The Henry Samueli School of Engineering in 1999 after Samueli, co-founder of Broadcom Inc., made a major donation.
As Irvine evolves, the Broadcom building now under construction between the Orange County Great Park and the Spectrum will no doubt also define Irvine’s future, along with the twin towers.
Those three projects will likely win many architecture and engineering awards over the next several years. A review of other Irvine projects honored in recent years by the O.C. chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers may serve as reminder about how much thought, planning and design goes into our city’s infrastructure, even when the projects aren’t the tallest, largest or prettiest buildings in the city.
Urban or and Development Project of the Year: Alegre Affordable Apartment
Irvine-based Fuscoe Engineering provided comprehensive services for this outstanding development, an award-winning affordable LEED Gold-certified apartment complex on 3.5 acres in Irvine.
Architectural Engineering Project of the Year: Edwards Lifesciences Parking Structure
Designed and engineered by Irvine’s LPA, the parking structure has a largest living wall installed in California and has a vegetated swale surrounding the structure to comply with the current stormwater requirements.
Construction Project of the Year: Bake Parkway and Lake Forest Drive
The roadways, bridges and infrastructure improvements of this project were complex, and completed on schedule and on budget by Irvine’s Hunsaker & Associates.
Water Treatment Project of the Year: Irvine Ranch Water District’s Michelson Plant Expansion
The Michelson Water Recycling Plant (MWRP) is the larger of Irvine Ranch Water District’s (IRWD) two water-recycling plants, and the expansion increased its 18 million gallons of wastewater per day capacity to 28 million gallons per day.
Land Development Project of the Year: Laguna Altura
A landmark coastal canyon village project designed and developed by the Irvine Company, the project presented number complex constraints which required a tremendous amount of collaborative work among numerous consultants and agencies to achieve design and construction goals.