Innovation at Irvine
by Leigh Christy
For residents of Los Angeles, California, the county line to the south is often referred to as "the orange curtain." Stereotypes of Orange County depict a different world politically and architecturally: "red" versus "blue," suburban versus urban, predictable versus vivacious. The orange groves after which the county is named have all but disappeared, replaced by office parks and subdivisions of million-dollar houses.
Imagine the surprise, then, of finding within this reputedly wearisome environment an oasis that is the new U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Pacific Regional Laboratory-Southwest and the Los Angeles District Office facility. Called "FDA at Irvine" for short, the government group has existed in the area for years but without a public face.
Although the monotony of the highway journey at rush hour may accentuate the building's sculptural design, and its vibrancy intensified by the adjacent wetland and wildlife preserve, the reality is that the creation of this innovative government facility is primarily attributable to the intelligent design of Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership (ZGF), in a joint venture with HDR Inc., and the visionary thinking of the FDA clients. >>>
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Early morning mist of the adjacent wetlands envelops the sculpted forms of FDA at Irvine, by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership and HDR, Inc.
Photo: Adrian Velicescu/ Standard
A more solid concrete and copper shaded southern facade protects the building interior from the hot California climate.
Photo: Nick Merrick/ Hedrich Blessing
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