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A Flight of Fancy Becomes Reality

"One of the most popular attractions at the Park will be water. Our job is to design the most sustainable way of getting, using, and saving it for all park visitors to enjoy. Groundwater, storm flow, and recycled water can feed lakes and streams as well as irrigate our Park to make visiting the Park a truly rewarding experience."--Team member Patrick Fuscoe of Fuscoe Engineering.

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In order to allow people to overview and participate in the park, even during construction, lead designer Ken Smith would like to begin hot air balloon rides so people can get a sense of scale of this huge space and the wondrous expansive sky.

The Great Park Design Studio, the architects and designers responsible for creating the master plan for the Orange County Great Park, kicked off their master planning efforts with a comprehensive design team roundtable at their new on-site studio located on the grounds of the Great Park, the 1,347-acre site on the former El Toro Marine base in Orange County, California.

"We would love to have hot air balloons going up continuously so people can watch the park being built from above," said Ken Smith. "We're also going to set up all kinds of events so people can come into the park and see how each phase is progressing."

As a continuation of the intense public participation that has occurred throughout this process, the team is full of ideas. "We're planning a great start for this great park," said Patrick Fuscoe, "and we'd like to see the public having access to the park so they can overview it even during construction."

Team member, sculptress Mary Miss said, "The Park will also be an ongoing laboratory for native plantings and sustainability that the public can access and use as a learning experience."

"We plan to create a park that is truly a great park," said Ken Smith, lead designer of the Great Park Design Studio. "The Park needs to be both a public and social place where people can come together to connect with nature and with other people. We will create a park different from most parks and one that responds to Orange County's history, geography, and demographics."

The Great Park Design Studio is working to find solutions to 13 critical master plan development issues that have been identified since their team won an intensive international design competition to be Master Designer of the Orange County Great Park in January of 2006. Their winning conceptual design features a two-and-a-third-mile long canyon and amphitheatre and retains the old runway as a linear monument to the Marine history with fighter plans stationed along its entire length. They plans to present a refined master plan that resolves the all critical issues to the board for final approval in August of 2006.

Among the 13 critical issues identified include natural systems, park infrastructure, sustainability, neighborhood integration, park management, security, and hydrology.

For more information about the Orange County Great Park, please visit

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December 7, 2019, 3:52 am PDT

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