Topping out ceremony held for Orange County Museum of Art

Emilee Geist

The Orange County Museum of Art is one step closer to realizing its expansion. A topping out ceremony was held at the construction site on the Segerstrom Center for the Arts campus on Tuesday in Costa Mesa. “The topping out ceremony is particularly significant in construction because it marks the […]

The Orange County Museum of Art is one step closer to realizing its expansion.

A topping out ceremony was held at the construction site on the Segerstrom Center for the Arts campus on Tuesday in Costa Mesa.

“The topping out ceremony is particularly significant in construction because it marks the pinnacle of the structural phase and the transition to the finishes, both exterior and interior,” Carlos Gonzalez, the regional executive officer of Clark Construction Group, said.

Shortly before the final structural beam, signed by people affiliated with the project, was lifted and put into place, Gonzalez spoke about the symbolism of a live tree accompanying it to the top of the steel structure.

“It will carry a live tree that will signify life for the building, the cultural life of the art that will be housed in the museum, and life for those of us that have had the privilege of being a part of the project,” Gonzalez added.

Brandon Welling, a managing partner of Morphosis, the designing architectural firm for the museum, said that he envisioned the building serving as the final piece of the puzzle to complete the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

David Emmes, a trustee with The Orange County Museum of Art, signs a beam during a topping out ceremony.

David Emmes, a trustee with The Orange County Museum of Art, signs a beam during a topping out ceremony at the site of the new Orange County Museum of Art on Tuesday.

(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“The overall form of the building is kind of balancing creating iconic, strong presence for the museum in the complex, as well as being sensitive to the idea that we’re integrating into an existing campus … for the arts,” Welling said. “We’re trying to create something that is strong and has presence but is not overpowering to the other institutions and buildings that are located there.”

Welling added that the new Orange County Museum of Art building will be approximately 53,000 square feet with about 25,000 square feet of galleries.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts already contains Segerstrom Hall, Segerstrom Concert Hall, Samueli Theater, Morr Theater and the South Coast Repertory.

Sarah Jesse, the interim director and CEO of the museum, told guests in attendance and those viewing the ceremony virtually that $53 million of the expected $75 million needed to complete the project has been raised.

She also said that nine lead donors have made donations of at least $1 million to the project. The donors are Noella and James Bergener, Henry Davis and Christina Fazzone, Cynthia and Stephen Fry, Jennifer and Anton Segerstrom, Jim and Pam Muzzy, Jeri and Danny McKenna, Hal Struck, the Segerstrom Foundation and a donor who wants to remain anonymous.

The project, which broke ground in September of 2019, is now expected to be completed in 2022, Jesse said.

“We’ve made so much progress on construction during this time of quarantine, and we’ve done it in a way that has kept all of the workers safe and healthy,” Jesse said in an interview prior to the ceremony. “That’s been a really important priority for us, and we’re happy that we were able to achieve both a ton of progress and also keep everybody safe.”

Mark Perry, the chairman of the board for Segerstrom Center for the Arts, marveled at the progress that has been made in a year often defined by the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic, saying, “We’ve not wasted a crisis.”

Mark Perry, the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, speaks during a topping out ceremony.

Mark Perry, the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, speaks during a topping out ceremony at the site of the new Orange County Museum of Art on Tuesday.

(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“We’re getting closer to completing the eighth wonder of the world, and it really is,” Perry added. “There’s nowhere you have a collection [of the visual and performing arts] like this, so we’re one day closer to making that happen, to celebrating together the completion.”

Jesse also stated that the building will reflect the museum’s values as a public space.

“It’s a very community-oriented, very public building in the design itself,” Jesse said. “It also provides us with this platform to showcase our world-class collection.

“The galleries for the first time will really allow us to show the collection at all times, and I think it will be a real discovery for our local community to learn what a wonderful and important community asset it is.”

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley appeared to find it inspiring to witness the investment in the community at a time of economic hardship.

“There’s 350 people working on this site [and] more than $73 million is being invested into our community with this project,” Foley said. “The amount of investment in our local community is so fitting right now when we are really struggling economically, and so to see this progress continue, I think it gives hope for a better future.”

Employees of Clark Construction Group and others watch as the final beam is put into place during topping out ceremony.

Employees of Clark Construction Group and others watch as the final beam is put into place during topping out ceremony at the site of the new Orange County Museum of Art on Tuesday.

(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

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