The Master Plan
For more than 150 years, The Irvine Ranch® has been privately owned. From the beginning, James Irvine instilled an attitude toward the land that endures to this day: The Irvine Company views The Ranch as a valuable, nonrenewable resource that must be managed with careful planning and long-range vision.
This view prevailed in the early 1960s when the company resisted pressures to sell off The Ranch piecemeal to developers. Instead, the Irvine Company's board of directors made a historic decision to draft a sophisticated Master Plan that would guide the orderly development of the entire Irvine Ranch.
The plan called for a balance of land uses to support economic growth and promote quality of life, including a variety of housing types, job centers, shopping centers, generous recreation and abundant open space. Planners further anticipated the need to add sufficient schools, churches, parks, roads, and utilities to serve The Irvine Ranch.
The Irvine Ranch Master Plan allows for flexibility to respond to new needs in changing times and to expand on architect and planner William Pereira's original vision and guiding principles.
Pereira was a renowned planner and architect whose most famous work is probably San Francisco's iconic needle-like Transamerica building. He also designed the Irvine Company's twin building headquarters in Newport Beach, as well as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and UC San Diego's Geisel Library. In September 1963, his Master Plan for The Irvine Ranch landed him on the cover of Time magazine.
"It's our intention," he wrote when drafting the plan, "that this tentative master plan allow for considerable latitude in all its parts. Its function is to guide development, to set standards and to enlarge rather than inhibit the potential… a basic land use plan has been drawn, fully cognizant of what exists at present, what is being planned in surrounding areas and what is likely to evolve in the foreseeable future."
The Irvine Ranch's unique location at the southern edge of the Los Angeles basin profoundly affected the Master Plan. The Ranch's early planners believed the transition from agricultural to urban and open space land uses could be accomplished in a way that would be in tune with the area's natural and man-made features.
Over the years, The Irvine Ranch Master Plan has occasionally been refined to reflect changing needs and opportunities, but the original planning concept has remained constant. The plan continues to reinforce a sense of place and a sense of community, providing a framework for measured, balanced and smart growth.