The Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA, has confirmed plans to construct the first of two new concert halls as the initial phase of a major expansion. The Segerstrom family, owners and developers of the area's South Coast Plaza and longtime benefactors of the center, donated last December the site adjacent to OCPAC. The gift represents part of more than six acres promised for "the future growth and development of Orange County arts organizations," said family spokespersons Jeanette and Henry Segerstrom. "Our family is particularly proud that this gift of our resources can be made for the benefit of all Orange Countians as we are celebrating our 100th year in Orange County."

To be known as the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, the expansion site is south of Town Center Drive, across from OCPAC's existing 3,000-seat Segerstrom Hall and adjacent to the South Coast Repertory venue. The initial phase of the project encompasses the construction of an 1,800-seat concert hall, and later a 500-seat music hall. New Haven, CT-based architect Cesar Pelli and New York City-based acoustician Russell Johnson of Artec Consultants will lead the project design team for the concert hall.

The proposed master plan for the arts center expansion includes additional phases to construct a new visual arts center with a pedestrian link to the concert halls, to expand SCR, and to create a central plaza that will serve as a gathering place accommodating up to 6,000 people for various events.

Prior to establishing a final cost for the new project, Pelli's office said the team must first reconcile architectural program and site requirements to establish a budget. Now that the Segerstroms have granted the land, the next step will be a cost analysis study. Renderings displayed at a December press conference were called "block" models reflecting land-use studies undertaken during preliminary design development, and did not represent the final design of the project. "As the design goes forward, the final shape of the hall will be revealed," Pelli said. Center officials said the project could be completed in four to five years, with approximately two to two-and-a-half years required for further feasibility studies, concert hall design, and budgeting, followed by 24 to 30 months of construction. Pelli, by the way, expects to break ground this spring on another expansive civic project, the new Performing Arts Center of Greater Miami.

OCPAC first opened the doors of its main 3,000-seat hall in September 1986 after three years of construction at a cost of $73 million, entirely funded by private contributions. The center was designed by The Blurock Partnership architectural firm of Newport Beach, CA, working with Caudill Rowlett Scott of Houston. Acoustician A. Harold Marshall of New Zealand was the main member of the acoustical design team, a consortium called Joint Venture Acoustical Consultants, which also included Jerald Hyde of St. Helena, CA, and Dennis Paoletti of San Francisco.

The new OCPAC development is an outgrowth of expansion feasibility studies first begun in 1987 and updated in recent years, according to Mark Chapin Johnson, chairman of the center's board of directors. "Cesar Pelli was asked to take part in the site planning by representatives of South Coast Plaza, who realized it was necessary to look at the long-term development of the South Coast metro area," Johnson said. "The center has elected to continue that relationship with Pelli by choosing him to serve as the architect for the concert hall." He said the organization's robust endowment fund stands at $26 million. Anticipating the gift of land from the Segerstroms, the center's board of directors and staff have been developing campaign plans to raise the necessary funding for the expansion; a master fundraising strategy was presented to the board last October. By commissioning Pelli, an architect with a world-class reputation, the board no doubt hopes to entice additional private benefactors to enhance the center's expansion coffers even further.