Modern Main Street: South Coast Plaza

Virtual event

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This event has ended but a recording is now available to watch.


Join Docomomo US/Southern California and the Society of Architectural Historians/Southern California Chapter for a look at the global shopping designation, South Coast Plaza. This free Zoom program will feature three experts: Alan Hess, author and advocate from Preserve Orange County; Matthew Parrent, AICP, Principal Associate at Gruen Associates; and Ashok Vanmali, AIA, Partner at Gruen Associates.

Attendees will learn how the Segerstrom family transformed acres of lima bean fields in Costa Mesa into a new type of downtown through the creation of the first indoor, air-conditioned mall, the development of a town center master plan and the creation of a vibrant arts district that serve the region. Learn how patriarch Henry Segerstrom became a patron to architects such as Victor Gruen Associates, Welton Becket & Associates, Cesar Pelli, Frank Gehry, Gin Wong and Robert Clements.

You will also learn about new and important names such as designer Rudi Baumfeld, interior designer Gere Kavanaugh, and one of the first African American graphic designers to work in a major architectural firm, Marion Sampler.

South Coast plaza was not only innovative in Gruen’s planning and philosophy of environmental architecture, but innovative in its agile response to changing Orange County demographics—transforming its store base from Woolworths and Thom McAnn to brands usually found on Fifth Avenue, Bond Street, and the Champs-Elysees.

Hess, a well-known author of dozens of books on architecture brings it all together into a compelling story that will have you longing for a trip to the mall on a Saturday afternoon. 

A self-guided tour of South Coast Plaza will also take place on Sunday, October 23rd, at 8:30 AM. 

Free, registration coming soon. 

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