Architect, new site named for O.C. museum

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Times Staff Writer

The Orange County Museum of Art will relocate from Newport Beach to Costa Mesa, with Thom Mayne, winner of the 2005 Pritzker Prize for architecture, named Friday to design the building that will fulfill a long-standing vision of an all-purpose arts district combining the Orange County Performing Artscenter, South Coast Repertory and now the museum.

Museum officials said they would work over the summer with Mayne and his Santa Monica-based firm, Morphosis, to develop a design concept and an estimated budget.

“He’s world class, and he’ll make sure we have a very iconic building,” museum Chairman David Emmes II said of Mayne, who is known for radical designs, including the massive, highly stylized Caltrans building in downtown Los Angeles, near City Hall.


The museum will be Mayne’s first building in Orange County and his first art museum. He recently received a commission for a new building for the Dallas Museum of Nature & Science.

“It’s going to be fun, and I’m as happy as can be,” the architect said Friday. He said he will carefully consider how to have the museum make visual sense in relationship to its cultural neighbors.

“This is the last piece of the puzzle,” he said, and one challenge will be to make it both distinctive and “part of a campus, a collective of buildings.”

Emmes said the building would be at least 72,000 square feet but not the full 140,000 square feet approved by Costa Mesa officials.

The idea, he said, is to stay within a budget and leave room for growth on the 1.6-acre site next to the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Segerstrom Hall has been transferred to the museum by the Orange County Performing Artscenter and as a condition of the transfer, the museum must break ground by 2013 and open by 2016.

The shape of the museum will be dictated largely by how well early fundraising goes: If money comes in quickly, OCMA will get its first choice, a free-standing building. If not, it may have to turn to a second option that would involve teaming with a commercial developer that would place a 300-foot condo tower atop the museum, with revenue from the tower paying museum expenses.


The Seattle Art Museum recently entered into such a partnership with Washington Mutual Inc. for a high-rise project.

A cornerstone of the funding will be the expected sale of the current museum’s site, nearly three acres in Newport Center.

“We think it could be quite considerable, a significant contribution to our goals,” Emmes said. He said that just under one acre is owned in tandem with Irvine Co., which would have to OK that parcel’s sale.