O.C. Museum of Art unveils designs for new building in Costa Mesa

The Orange County Museum of Art presented designs Thursday for its new three-story, 52,000-square-foot building planned for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa.

The structure, which would be next to the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, is designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne and his firm, Morphosis. It features 25,000 square feet of exhibition space, more than doubling the capacity of the current building in Newport Beach.

OCMA will close that location, at 850 San Clemente Drive in Newport Center, on June 17 after 41 years there. Construction on the new building is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2019, with completion and opening planned for 2021, OCMA officials said.

During the construction, the museum will operate in an interim space in a shopping center near South Coast Plaza, officials said.

The new building is to include a reconfigurable, open-span exhibit plan on the main floor, mezzanine and storefront galleries, a multipurpose education hall, a spacious roof terrace, a museum store and cafe, and administrative and support spaces.

The facade features light-colored, undulating bands of metal or ceramic paneling and glazing intended to play off neighboring buildings and works of architecture. An outdoor staircase will curve toward the museum’s entry, creating a dialogue with “Connector,” the outdoor sculpture by Richard Serra that occupies a central spot in the Segerstrom Center’s Argyros Plaza.

“To have everyone here today really takes this project to the next chapter,” Todd Smith, OCMA’s director and chief executive, said Thursday at a media presentation at the adjacent Plaza Tower in Costa Mesa.

“This is the location the museum needs to be because it is at the center of the arts in Orange County. What is missing from the Segerstrom complex and SCR [South Coast Repertory] is a visual art component, and we, as the world-class modern and contemporary art museum in Orange County, should be and need to be part of this.”

The museum has a reputation in the art world for discovering and engaging artists at key points in their careers. The permanent collection consists of more than 3,500 works, many by nationally and internationally acclaimed artists.

OCMA officials did not reveal the price tag of the new building, though previous estimates with the same architect have ranged between $50 million and $60 million.

Craig Wells, president of OCMA’s board of trustees, said the long-planned move — the Segerstrom family deeded the land to the museum in 2008 — was able to advance with the sale of the museum’s Newport Beach property.

A grant deed filed in May with the Orange County clerk-recorder’s office shows OCMA granted title for the property to Vivante Newport Center LLC, a subsidiary of Nexus Development Corp., a real estate developer with offices in Santa Ana and Phoenix.

The amount of the sale was $24 million, according to the Orange County Business Journal. The bulk of that money is expected to go toward construction costs for the new building.

With the sale in sight earlier this year, the city of Newport Beach settled two lawsuits involving the museum and local activists who opposed OCMA’s plan in 2016 to sell the land to Related California, which proposed a high-rise condominium project called Museum House.

OCMA had planned to use the proceeds from that sale to fund its move to Segerstrom. Instead, the City Council revoked its development approval for the 100-unit, 25-story Museum House tower in February 2017 when faced with enough petition signatures from opponents to force a referendum.

Wells said the museum is in a silent phase of fundraising among trustees and known donors for the new structure. A public announcement of a capital campaign will occur this fall, Smith said.

When the new structure is complete, it will be adaptive to seismic activity and totally environmentally sustainable, Mayne said. Indoor and outdoor open spaces will be plentiful, and one section of art galleries will be viewable from the street — the appropriately named Avenue of the Arts.

This will be Mayne’s first art museum. He also designed the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas and the California Department of Transportation’s District 7 headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.

RICHARD CHANG is a contributor to Times Community News.