RENDERING COURTESY OF KEN SMITH WORKSHOP
WEST OF THE OC GREAT PARK DESIGN STUDIO
“The hardest part is always the politics. On a project of this
scale, finding a sponsor who is committed to getting things
done without diluting the vision is the ke
—Yehudi Gaffen, Gafcon, San Diego, California, USA ”y.
For more than a half-century, the El
Toro U.S. Marine base served as an aircraft training ground and staging area.
But it's slowly being transformed into a
massive urban oasis—with an emphasis on
green. The redwood from the old airplane
hangars will be used to build bridges, for
instance, and approximately 3. 3 million tons of
runway material will be reused onsite.
“Every aspect of its design is geared toward
health and sustainability of individuals, the community and the environment,” says Yehudi
Gaffen, CEO of Gafcon, the San Diego,
California, USA-based project management firm
overseeing the so-called Great Park project.
The 1,347-acre (545-hectare) site will include
sports fields, bike paths, a wildlife corridor and a
manmade canyon with a meandering stream that
will empty into a lake.
But the biggest challenge won’t be creating
that canyon out of what was once a perfectly
flat landing strip, says Mr. Gaffen. It will be
making sure the ideals of the project stay intact,
despite economic woes and policy shifts. With
an estimated US$1.3 billion price tag, progress
is tricky in a tanking economy, he admits.
So far, only a balloon park has opened. Yet
even without a project timeline in place, Mr.
Gaffen predicts the park will be completed
within 20 years.