July 25, 2019


Costa Mesa, Calif. (July 2019) – South Coast Plaza pays tribute to the internationally-renowned architect, César Pelli, who died at 92 on July 19 at his home in New Haven, Conn. Pelli designed buildings which are part of an arts, culture and business hub in Orange County that South Coast Plaza’s cofounder, Henry Segerstrom, envisioned more than 50 years ago.

Located steps away from each other in Costa Mesa, Pelli’s body of work in Orange County consists of the Plaza Tower skyscraper on Anton Blvd., the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Samueli Theater and the extension of South Coast Repertory.

“The world lost a master of urban architecture,” said Elizabeth Segerstrom co-managing partner, South Coast Plaza. “The concert hall, Plaza Tower, Samueli Theater and South Coast Repertory designed by César Pelli exemplify his immense talent and profound understanding of the role those buildings played in fulfilling Henry’s vision of a cosmopolitan center. César was more than a titan of the architecture world – he also was a friend who will be missed. We mourn his passing and honor his legacy.”

In 1990, the Segerstrom family selected Pelli to design Plaza Tower, one of three skyscrapers in the South Coast Plaza office building portfolio. The building opened a year later, becoming Orange County’s first commercial skyscraper clad in stainless steel – a recognizable landmark visible from the 405 freeway. At twilight, the western-facing stainless steel massive surface displays a beautiful reflection of the Southern California sunset.

Pelli told the Los Angeles Times, “It was an early decision to use stainless steel. The reflections are diffused by an almost invisible pattern stamped onto the panels, eliminating hot spots in the reflection and creating a warm and lively feeling.”

For the expansion of the adjacent South Coast Repertory, which was completed in 2002, he created a new façade and lobby that flawlessly fused the original theater with the additions: a new 336-seat proscenium stage, offices and classrooms.

What followed was much larger and more ambitious in scope and scale. Nearby is the 2,000-seat Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, which opened in October 2006 after the Segerstrom family donated $40 million and the land for the hall. The New York Times described the concert hall this way: “It has made a splash, with its undulating glass walls, curvaceous tiers, silver-leafed foyer ceiling, chandelier of 300 individual hanging crystal lights and well-coifed public plaza.”

Pelli told the Los Angeles Times, “What is important is that this building is very elegant and also very relaxed. Full of dynamism, energy, faith in the future.”

The last piece of Pelli’s body of work in Costa Mesa is the Samueli Theater, which he situated on the opposite end of the building housing the concert hall. He seamlessly connected the two performing arts venues using a continuous exterior surface of beige Portuguese limestone. That theater opened also in 2006, a month after the concert hall debuted.

If there might have been an insight into Pelli’s guiding principles in designing iconic places – no matter their stature or location –  it is the simple but meaningful  sentence in the Los Angeles Times 28 years ago that remains relevant to this day: “Buildings, like people, need to be alive.”

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Renowned as a leading international shopping destination, South Coast Plaza is home to more than 250 prominent boutiques, critically-acclaimed restaurants and the adjacent celebrated Segerstrom Center for the Arts and the Orange County Museum of Art. It is the West Coast’s premier shopping experience, with its proximity to beaches and John Wayne Airport, customized concierge services, and unparalleled collection of diverse retailers — from Gucci, Hermès, Cartier and Harry Winston to Saint Laurent, The Webster, Dior, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy and more. South Coast Plaza is located in Orange County, California, in the city of Costa Mesa. Information: southcoastplaza.com or 800.782.8888.