Work on the new Orange County Museum of Art in Costa Mesa, CA is nearing completion, with opening day anticipated for Fall 2022. The state-of-the-art 53,000 sq. foot building – designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis – is twice the size of the museum’s former location in Newport Beach.
The move places the museum right in the middle of the region’s premier cultural campus, the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, which will offer the OCMA a bustling central location, expanded gallery space, and plenty of inviting public gathering areas.
The intricate curves of OCMA’s exterior are its signature gesture. A distinctive façade featuring undulating bands of terra cotta wraps around the building and continues inside, beckoning visitors to enter. Boston Valley worked closely with Morphosis to design and fabricate this façade, guided by a shared willingness to push the forming capabilities of the material.
“The terra cotta is like a fabric woven through the building. It’s a continuous strip that starts at the end of the upper façade on the terrace and weaves into the lobby, down through the atrium and across the front.”
– Brandon Welling, Managing Principal – Morphosis
At the ACAWorkshop in 2017, Stan Su led the Morphosis team as they explored the viability of using curved terra cotta panels in a hot, arid environment – a concept that would later evolve into the OCMA design. Stan Su and Erik Verboon will be presenting the process and results of this exploration in their opening keynote at ACAW 2022, titled “Orange County Art Museum, From ACAW to Reality.”
Boston Valley manufactured the curved forms by post-processing terra cotta panels to create a smooth transitional wave. Most of the building’s complexity centers on the north side, with a series of swoops encasing the classroom and performance space on the terrace level.
In addition to the inherent flexibility of the material that allowed us to achieve this design, the thermal mass and evaporative cooling potential of architectural terra cotta also make it an ideal choice for the dry, sunny climate of Southern California. Extensive studies and a full-scale mockup of the project were completed as proof of concept, demonstrating that terra cotta’s environmental responsiveness could not be matched by metal and other materials.