Transforming the Irvine Ranch : Joan Irvine, William Pereira, Ray Watson, and the Big Plan book cover
1st Edition

Transforming the Irvine Ranch
Joan Irvine, William Pereira, Ray Watson, and the Big Plan

ISBN 9781032127835
Published June 24, 2022 by Routledge
338 Pages 35 B/W Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $42.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

From citrus trees to spring breakers, Transforming the Irvine Ranch tells the story of Orange County’s metamorphosis from 93,000 acres of farmland into an iconic Southern California landscape of beaches and modernist architecture. Drawing on decades of archival research and their own years at the famed Irvine Company, the authors bring a collection of colorful characters responsible for the transformation to life, including:

  • Ray Watson, whose nearly century-long life took him from an Oakland boarding house to the Irvine and Walt Disney Company boardrooms
  • Joan Irvine Smith, a much-married heiress who waged war against the US government and the Irvine Foundation's reactionary board and won
  • William Pereira, the visionary architect whose work became synonymous with the LA cityscape.

Spanning the history of modern California from its Gold Rush past to the late 1970s, Transforming the Irvine Ranch chronicles a storied family’s largely successful attempts to remake the vast Irvine Ranch in its own image.

Table of Contents

Preface. Introduction. 1. A Decade of Determination. 2. A Planner's Path: Early Life, Education and Real Work. 3. Ray Arrives at a Company on the Brink of Change. 4. "We are not Gods." 5. Athalie. 6. Joan. 7. The Birth of UC Irvine. 8. Inclusions, Exclusions and the Campus that Never Was. 9. Pipes and Plans. 10. Defending the Borders. 11. The Campaign for Cityhood. 12. The New City: Partners of Antagonists, or a Little of Both? 13. The Magic of Planning. 14. From Plans to Reality: Eastbluff and Newport Center. 15. The Tax Reform Act of 1969. 16. Acceleration. 17. Conflicting Visions of the Upper Newport Bay. 18. Politics and media. 19. Low-Cost Housing: "A Problem from Day One." 20. The Jewel in the Crown. 21. The Best of All Possible Coasts. 22. Town and Gown. 23. Joan Redux. 24. Buying Time. 25. Schout's Honor. 26. Wise (and Rich) Men from the East. 27. Going All In. 28. Ray Departs. 29. Villains No More. 30. The Bigs Plans of William Pereira. 31. Reasons for Success. 32. Epilog - Follow the Money. Bibliography.

View More



H. Pike Oliver has worked on real estate development strategies and master-planned communities since the early 1970s, including nearly eight years at the Irvine Company. He was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and resided in the City of Irvine for 15 years. As the founder and sole proprietor of URBANEXUS, Oliver works on advancing equitable and sustainable real estate development and natural lands management. He is also an affiliate instructor at the Runstad Department of Real Estate at the University of Washington. Earlier in his career, Oliver worked for public agencies including the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research where he was a principal contributor to An Urban Strategy for California. Prior to relocating to Seattle in 2013, he taught real estate development at Cornell University and directed the undergraduate program in urban and regional studies. He is a member of the Urban Land Institute, the American Planning Association, and a founder and emeritus member of the California Planning Roundtable.Oliver is a graduate of the urban studies and planning program at San Francisco State University and earned a master’s degree in urban planning at UCLA.

C. Michael Stockstill received a degree in journalism from Humboldt State University in 1971. After a year as a legislative staff member in the California Assembly, he worked as a reporter and editor in Orange County before joining the Irvine Company in 1978. During his 13-year career there, he helped formulate and implement strategy for major planning and policy issues, including a multi-year effort to pass a half-cent sales tax for local transportation improvements. Stockstill also worked for the Transportation Corridor Agencies, which built the first toll roads in modern California history, CalOptima, Southern California Edison, and as a public affairs consultant. Stockstill moved to Irvine in 1975 and was active in local government, youth sports, and education while raising a family there. Now retired, he lives in Irvine. He has written for national magazines including Planning and Parks and Recreation.