Too Tall Or Too Cool?

Real Estate, What's New In Irvine

Source: The Orange County RegisterKimberly Pierceall

It’s not that the Irvine Co. is trying to build the tallest building in Orange County. It just is.

It built an office tower at 520 Newport Center Drive in Newport Beach, long considered to be part of the master plan envisioned by mid-century architect William Pereira. At 315 feet, it surpassed the 302-foot-tall City Tower in Orange, according to an Orange County Register story about the county’s “skyscrapers”.

Now, the company has a plan for a 323-foot-tall office tower in Irvine, next to the Irvine Spectrum Center, on top of a parking lot at 8055 Irvine Center Drive.

At a meeting of Irvine’s Planning Commission on Thursday night, company officials and an architect said the tall building would be LEED Gold for environmental standards (below the highest level, platinum, but above silver), the stainless-steel finish would be “satin” and the landscape would include a “necklace of palm trees” around it.

The commission unanimously approved the company’s master plan. The building is “obviously gorgeous,” said Commissioner Harvey Liss, but he and others had concerns about a very visible and large parking structure next to it. They approved the plan with the caveat that the company work with city staff to make the parking structure more pleasing to the eye.

No mention was made of the building’s noteworthy height.

The company shies away from standing tall on the playground. While other developers wage battles to have the biggest building, this company doesn’t really want anyone to know how high it’s going to go.

The height is simply what companies in need of office space are looking for, said Irvine Co. spokesman Mike Lyster. For one, prospective tenants want floor-to-ceiling windows and lobbies with a “wow” factor (this one will have a 23-foot-tall entry). Overall, it will span 450,000 square feet of vertical space; 382,843 square feet of that can be leased.

While they don’t have any tenants lined up yet, the company is moving forward with the project, confident that the location near the Spectrum will attract takers.

New York-based architects Henry Cobb and Michael Bischoff of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners are behind the Irvine office design. Cobb designed the U.S. Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles and the John Hancock Tower in Boston.

The firm also designed the Irvine Co.’s 650 Newport Center Drive (Pimco’s headquarters) and 520 Newport Center Drive buildings, the latter of which will be relegated to the second-tallest building in Orange County when the new Spectrum tower is built.

“The building is part of the Irvine Company’s long-term planning and investment in the Irvine Spectrum and enhances the area’s downtown setting with another workplace option for employers to locate alongside shopping, dining, hotels, transportation and recreation,” Lyster said in a statement.

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