Beginning with the construction of South Coast Plaza in March 1967 to the opening of the Renée and Henry T. Segerstrom Concert Hall in 2006, prominent and cutting-edge architects have been enlisted by Henry T. Segerstrom to create structures that would grace the plazas and commercial centers in Costa Mesa. Distinctive and innovative corporate office buildings, such as Plaza Tower, Center Tower, and Park Tower are internationally recognized as pioneering examples of innovative engineering that incorporate advanced systems and materials. Intertwined throughout these office buildings, hotel, performing art institutions, and parking structures, are quiet, carefree areas with walkways connecting all the facilities.
“Understand that it all starts with the land. First of all you have to love the land. As you begin to recognize its [the land’s] potential, you also need to understand that it is a resource that extends from the distant past into the future. It will be here long after we are gone. That means we must carefully plan and design its use for future generations.”
– Henry T. Segerstrom
A bridge over the Bristol Street highway connects South Coast Plaza to the 14-acre multidisciplinary campus of Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The performing arts structures built by some of the most prominent architects of the time include the South Coast Repertory Theater, Segerstrom Hall, the Samueli Theater, the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Segerstrom Center for the Arts will eventually also include the new Orange County Museum of Art.
“….Orange County is at this cutting edge in experimenting with materials and forms. And this is a building that acknowledges the past, is respectful of the past, but is really a building that addresses the future, a building that will spend most of its life in the 21st century, in the third millennium. It has to be looking forward. The materials help us to do this in a very forceful, clear, unambiguous way.”
– Cesar Pelli, on Plaza Tower
Henry Segerstrom understood the value of good landscape design, not only to compliment the buildings he developed but also to promote the general sense of well being for those that occupy these spaces. To achieve this, Segerstrom required thoughtful, aesthetic interventions and policies for all of his land use categories. The design of the landscaped areas connecting Segerstrom Center for the Arts to commerce, culture, and tourism, achieves environmental, sustainable, and aesthetic outcomes. The complex of South Coast Plaza also encompasses advanced and unconventional landscaping solutions with surprises that combine Henry Segerstrom’s grand vision for a pleasing and enduring retail experience with a fluency in contemporary landscape discourse. Segerstrom took many risks, commissioning bridge, fountain, and garden designs that went beyond the prosaic. Working with the most advanced landscape architects, Segerstrom recognized that neglecting concerns for this art in his urban planning could result in endless tedium, as well as minimize the natural beauty of Orange County, diminishing it under concrete, glass, and steel. Henry Segerstrom vision is to create legible, beautiful, and enduring places for all the land he and his family have developed.
“The thread that runs through all of my work is to make public space memorable, to make it the heart of the city. You have to make people aware of the space so that it sticks in their memory… It’s not enough to just have open space. It has to have character and uniqueness.”
— Peter Walker
Over a relatively short period of time, the Segerstrom family transformed their farming operation into a development and management company. Between the 1960’s and today they developed a large swath of land in Costa Mesa and Santa Ana; from light industrial complexes such as the Segerstrom Technology District to Harbor Gateway, commercial high rises, art complexes and shopping destinations. A holistic approach was intentionally configured by Henry Segerstrom and his family in a successful effort to bring a once agricultural community to the forefront of modern California. Where once stood a humble dairy farm and expansive lima bean growing operation, we now find a thriving cosmopolitan hub which offers world class shopping, dining, entertainment and technology facilities.