The Looming Threat to Orange Coast College


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A year has passed since the Coast Community College District in Costa Mesa, California announced a new master plan titled “Vision 2020” that threatened buildings designed by Richard Neutra and Robert Alexander and Garrett Eckbo designed landscapes with demolition. A draft Program Environmental Impact Report found that these buildings and landscapes were of historic significance and eligible for designation on the National Register of Historic Places. Docomomo US SoCal and other advocates called for a more environmentally reponsible approach that incorporated these buildings into the master plan instead of replacing them with a "grand lawn." Now the environmental review process is nearing completion and soon a decision will be made whether these significant buildings and landscaped will be saved.


Photo (left): Orange Coast College Planetarium. Credit: John Linnert

The Orange Coast College project was introduced to the partnership Neutra and Alexander by Robert Alexander early in the 50s. He had developed a master plan for the campus and had already designed a couple of the buildings. However, he had lost some traction with the board and thought that introducing Neutra might salvage the job. This proved to be true, and the partnership was entrusted with the design of six buildings to fill in the spots set aside in the master plan including the Business Education classroom wing, Science building, Theater Arts building and football stadium. These buildings incorporated forward looking features, an exterior display window with fashion manikins, and a planetarium which doubled as classroom and star gazing space that included a sheet copper standing seam roof system as part of the design.

Photo: View of Business classroom wing. Credit: John Linnert
Photo: Business wing sitting area. Credit: John Linnert
Photo: View of Business Center. Credit: John Linnert
Photo: Business wing sitting area. Credit: John Linnert

Though the environmental review process is currently ongoing, the Historical Assessment Report is expected to be completed soon and once it is released there will be an opportunity for public comment. The fate of these buildings and landscapes ultimately rests in the hands of the OCC Board of Trustees, yet there is still time to send letters of support for the incorporation of these buildings and landscapes into the master plan.

Please send written comments with your voice of support to repurpose/preserve the Neutra +Alexander classroom Legacy Buildings and Garrett Eckbo designed landscape to the following people:

Jerry Marchbank
Senior Director, Facilities, Planning and Construction
Coast Community College District
1370 Adams Avenue
Costa Mesa CA 92626
RE: Vision 2020 -- Public Comment

Additionally, you may send the same comments to the Board of Trustees at the following e-mails:
(It is understood that the Board of Trustees are the ones who are anticipated to decide
how to proceed with the Master Plan Vision 2020)

Coast Colleges Board of Trustees
Coast Community College District

1370 Adams Avenue
Costa Mesa CA 92626
RE: Orange Coast College Neutra + Alexander and Eckbo .
Repurpose/Preservation of classroom Legacy Structures and Landscape designs.

Mary L. Hornbuckle, Clerk of the Board (12/2012 - 12/2016)

David A. Grant, Vice President (12/2010 - 12/2014)

Lorraine Prinsky, President (12/20/12 - 12/20/16)

Jerry Patterson, Trustee (12/2012 - 12/2016)

Jim Moreno, Trustee (12/2010 - 12/20/14)

Julie Frazier-MathewsSecretary of the Board/District Director of the Office of the Board of Trustee

PEIR e-mail comment: (In addition to US mail letter)
Jerry Marchbank