Irvine Spectrum Center
||This article appears to be written like an advertisement. (June 2010)|
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (June 2010)|
|Location||Irvine, California, USA|
|Developer||The Irvine Company|
|Architect||Perkowitz & Ruth / B.A.R. Architects / R.T.K.L. Associates|
|No. of stores and services||164|
|No. of anchor tenants||3|
The Irvine Spectrum Center is a large outdoor shopping mall on the south-east edge of Irvine, California, centered on a large Edwards 21 Cinemas movie theater. Built over a 10-year period, the first phase of the mall opened in 1995, with the second phase following soon after in 1998. The third phase was completed in 2002. The fourth and fifth phases were built and completed through 2005 and 2006. It also boasts the gamut of normal mall shop chains including Barnes & Noble, Macy's, Nordstrom and H&M. Some restaurants include Javier's Cantina, Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Yard House, Izakaya Sushi, California Pizza Kitchen, Johnny Rockets, Veggie Grill, Red Robin, Ruby's, Chipotle and Corner Bakery Cafe. The Irvine Spectrum Center also hosts The Improv and Dave and Buster's. The outside screenshots from the Disney Channel series Austin and Ally of the fictional "Mall of Miami" takes place at the Irvine Spectrum Center.
The 21-screen movie theater was, at the time of its completion, the largest movie theater in the western United States. During development the Edwards company code-named it "The Big One", which remained the movie theater's nickname for a while thereafter until numerous other theaters eclipsed its screen count, particularly AMC's 30-screen complex at The Block at Orange. It was built for the express purpose of showing every movie currently in wide release, and features four large auditorium-style theaters for the currently popular films, surrounded by 16 smaller stadium-seating screens and an IMAX theater. The theater's opening attractions were "Toy Story" and the IMAX 3D feature "Into the Deep". Originally it featured four concession stands as well as a candy stand in the main lobby, but the IMAX concession stand and candy stand soon shut down, leaving only the main concession counter in the center of the megaplex and two of the satellite concession stands [one on the north side near two of the large auditorium-style theaters, the other on the south side by the other two auditorium-style theaters] used during the heavy seasons. When Edwards Cinemas was bought by Regal Entertainment Group in 2000, the cineplex was heavily altered, much to the confusion of moviegoers. Entrances to theaters were relocated to less-visible locations, and many of them were converted to stadium seating which eliminated up to a third of their seating capacity. The theater was highly visible at night, bearing over two miles of pink and purple neon lights. This night-time visibility has since been reduced drastically by the addition of parking structures and the mall's second phase.
A solid-white obelisk, which, at night, features the words "Irvine Spectrum" vertically projected onto it, located on the northern corner near the 5 freeway, makes it a landmark of the area. The obelisk, prior to November, 2005, was a multi-color computer generated display of blues, greens, and purples. During the holiday seasons, various season-appropriate symbols were also displayed. However, beginning in November, 2005, the obelisk now shines in a bright white color that still makes it a landmark. The obelisk conceals a cell phone and television tower inside of it.
The Irvine Spectrum Center also features a large custom built Giant Wheel (Ferris Wheel) hand crafted in Italy and shipped through the Panama Canal, as well as a Carousel, fabricated in San Francisco. The unusual architecture of the mall is based on the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, figuring most prominently in the mall's second phase. The Center's popularity makes it known for being tough to find parking on Friday and Saturday nights after 5. However, as popularity grew, the Irvine Company, owner of the Center, built two parking structures, (one on each side): one by Edwards, the other by Nordstrom to aid convenience. The structures have sensors that determine how many vehicles are inside at any given moment. As you enter the structure, a large digital display will tell you how many spots are left on a given level. As a result of the structures, more space was open to build additional retail stores including as Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Jos A. Bank, The Saleen Store (Converted to SMS Motor cars), and Target. For those not wanting to look too long for a stall, the Center features four valet parking stations 1) Fortune Valet by the Cheesecake Factory and Javier's Cantina; 2) Gateway Valet by PF Chang's, 3) Tradesman Valet by The Yard house/The Improv, and 4) Myrtle's Valet near Johnny Rockets/Dave & Buster's (open lesser hours). Valet customers may also get their cars detailed while they shop.
Many Irvine residents can easily spot the location of "the Spectrum" at night because of the moving searchlights it projects in the night sky. It can also be seen from both I-5 and I-405 as it is located in the cleft of the I-405/I-5 split (also known as the El Toro Y).