Irvine Spectrum Center Mall: Landmark of Leisure and Lifestyle in Irvine, CA

Irvine Spectrum Center: A World of Style, Dining, and Entertainment

Irvine Spectrum Center, an outdoor shopping mall developed by the Irvine Company, has been a prominent landmark in Irvine, California, since its opening in 1995.

It has grown over the years to become a bustling center for shopping, dining, and entertainment, with various expansions and renovations.

The center’s rich history began with planning in 1985, and since then, it has gone through several phases of development.

Expansion and Revitalization

In 2016, the Irvine Company announced plans to demolish the former Macy’s building and replace it with 20 new stores, which opened in 2018.

This included a newly designed Apple Store and 19 additional stores and restaurants.

In 2020, a $200 million expansion added a new wing to the center’s south side, featuring larger stores, restaurants, and cafes like Sephora, Black Dot Cafe, Apple, and a new children’s playground.

Year Expansion Highlights
1995 First phase – 21-screen multiplex, Oasis Food Court, and GameWorks
1998 Second phase – More stores and attractions
2002 Third phase – Giant Wheel Ferris wheel, Robinsons-May, Nordstrom
2005-2006 Fourth and fifth phases – Target as third anchor store
2016 Sixth phase – 200 Spectrum Center office tower
2020 $200 million expansion – South side wing

A Unique Design Inspired by Moroccan Architecture

The Irvine Spectrum Center in Irvine, California, is a testament to architectural magnificence, heavily inspired by Moroccan and Moorish styles.

This chapter delves into the design inspirations and architectural elements that make the center a standout landmark.

The Moroccan Influence

The architectural design of the Irvine Spectrum Center is primarily influenced by Moroccan architecture, particularly evident in its second phase of construction.

The Moroccan influence brings a unique aesthetic to the center, setting it apart from the typical shopping mall design.

This design choice reflects a desire to create a space that is not only functional but also culturally rich and visually captivating​​.

Moorish Echoes from the Alhambra

The Moorish Alhambra palace complexes inspire the center’s architectural pattern in Granada, Spain.

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The Alhambra, a renowned architectural marvel, is known for its intricate designs, ornate tile work, and lush gardens, all characteristic of Moorish architecture.

The Irvine Spectrum Center, through its design, pays homage to this style, blending historical elegance with modern functionality.

The center’s construction occurred incrementally between 1995 and 2006, with each phase incorporating more of these Moorish elements​​.

Architectural Composition and Details

The Moorish influence is seamlessly integrated into its village-like layout at the Irvine Spectrum Center.

This design approach creates an inviting and open atmosphere, encouraging exploration and leisure. One of the standout features of the center is the white obelisk located on its northern corner.

This structure becomes particularly striking at night when the word “SPECTRUM” is vertically projected onto it.

The obelisk not only adds to the aesthetic appeal of the center but also serves a functional purpose, containing a cell phone and television tower​​.

The center’s layout is interspersed with distinctive doors featuring etched glass emblems, leading into restrooms and family areas.

These elements further enhance the Moroccan theme, adding intricate details to the overall design.

Such attention to detail ensures that the architecture of the Irvine Spectrum Center is not just visually appealing but also culturally significant​​.

Famous Brands at Irvine Spectrum Center

Adidas: A global sportswear brand known for high-quality athletic shoes, clothing, and accessories.

Apple: A leading technology company offering innovative consumer electronics, including iPhones, iPads, Macs, and more.

Barnes & Noble Booksellers: A well-known bookstore chain with a wide selection of books, magazines, gifts, and more.

Levi’s: This iconic brand is known for its high-quality denim and casual clothing for men and women.

Lululemon Athletica: A premium athletic apparel brand specializing in yoga and workout clothing for women and men.

Nordstrom: A leading fashion retailer offering a curated selection of clothing, shoes, and accessories for men, women, and children.

Sephora: A renowned beauty retailer featuring various cosmetics, skincare, haircare, and beauty tools from top brands.

Target: A popular retail chain that offers various household items, clothing, electronics, and more at affordable prices.

Urban Outfitters: A trendy clothing and lifestyle store that offers a unique mix of apparel, accessories, and home decor.

Dining Options at Irvine Spectrum Center

85°C Bakery Cafe: A famous bakery and cafe offering a variety of freshly baked goods, coffee, and beverages with takeout, delivery, and outdoor seating options.

Afters Ice Cream: It is a trendy ice cream shop known for its unique flavors and the famous “Milky Bun” ice cream sandwich, offering delivery, takeout, and outdoor seating.

BRIO Tuscan Grille: An Italian restaurant offering a taste of Tuscany with various delicious dishes, available for curbside pickup, outdoor seating, takeout, and reservations.

California Pizza Kitchen: A popular chain featuring innovative pizzas, pasta, salads, and more, with curbside pickup, delivery, outdoor seating, and takeout options.

Capital Dim Sum – Seafood – Bar: A Chinese restaurant offering an extensive menu of dim sum, seafood, and traditional dishes, with curbside pickup, delivery, outdoor seating, takeout, and reservations.

The Cheesecake Factory: A well-known restaurant offering a diverse menu and an extensive selection of cheesecakes, with curbside pickup, delivery, outdoor seating, and takeout options.

Chipotle Mexican Grill: A popular fast-casual chain serving customizable burritos, tacos, and bowls with fresh ingredients, offers curbside pickup, delivery, outdoor seating, and takeout options.

CUCINA Enoteca: A stylish Italian restaurant and wine shop offering a modern twist on classic dishes, with curbside pickup, delivery, outdoor seating, takeout, and reservations.

Curry Up Now: An innovative Indian restaurant serving creative and flavorful dishes, available for curbside pickup, delivery, outdoor seating, and takeout options.

Attractions to Enjoy at Irvine Spectrum Center

Visitors to the Irvine Spectrum Center can find various attractions to enjoy, including the Giant Wheel Ferris wheel, added in 2002.

The Giant Wheel at Irvine Spectrum Center is a popular attraction and a significant landmark in Irvine, California.

The History and Creation of the Giant Wheel

The story of the Giant Wheel began at the turn of the 21st century when Irvine Company planners embarked on a global search for a unique, illuminated Ferris wheel.

Their journey took them across America and to Paris, eventually leading them to Casale di Scodosia in Italy, just south of Venice.

Here, they discovered a 108-foot Ferris wheel featuring 24 Old World Andalusian-inspired gondolas crafted by Italian manufacturers.

In the summer of 2002, after a three-week journey from Italy, the custom-designed and handcrafted Italian Giant Wheel arrived in Irvine.

It took eight weeks to assemble under the guidance of Italian engineers and was adorned with 12,500 red, white, and blue lights.

When unveiled in October 2002, it became one of the only three large fixed wheels in Southern California, alongside those at Santa Monica Pier and Disney’s California Adventure.

In 2015, the Giant Wheel underwent a significant upgrade, replacing the original standard light bulbs with 52,000 energy-efficient LED lights capable of producing 16 million color schemes​​.

Irvine Spectrum Center
Irvine Spectrum Center” by www78 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Features and Visitor Experience

The Giant Wheel is a 10-story structure, making it a prominent landmark at Irvine Spectrum Center.

The LED interface, with its capacity for a vast array of color schemes, adds a mesmerizing visual element to the wheel, especially at night.

Whether viewed from the top, offering a panoramic view of Orange County, or from the courtyard below, the experience is spectacular.

As of 2023, the wheel operates from Sunday to Thursday between 10 am and 9 pm and Friday to Saturday between 10 am and 10 pm.

A single ride costs $8 per person, with a discounted rate of $7 for military personnel and seniors. A Spectrum Speed Pass is $12 per person for those who prefer to skip the line.

Tickets can be purchased online, at the Guest Services Kiosk, or the Giant Wheel.

The Giant Wheel as a Symbol of Irvine

The Giant Wheel at Irvine Spectrum Center has become more than just an attraction; it’s a symbol of the city of Irvine. It represents a blend of innovation, global collaboration, and local culture.

The wheel is not just an entertaining ride; it’s a beacon that draws visitors and locals alike, offering a unique perspective of the city and the surrounding region.

Dave & Buster’s: An exciting entertainment venue combining arcade games, a sports bar, and a restaurant, offering a fun atmosphere for friends and family to enjoy.

The Escape Game: A thrilling escape room experience that challenges participants to solve puzzles and clues within a set time limit to “escape” from themed rooms.

Improv Comedy Club: A lively venue showcasing live comedy acts, including stand-up, improv, and sketch performances, providing an entertaining night out.

Odyssey VR: A virtual reality gaming center offers various immersive experiences and games, transporting players to new worlds and adventures.

Regal Irvine Spectrum ScreenX: A state-of-the-art movie theater with various screen technologies, including ScreenX, 4DX, IMAX, RPX, and VIP, offers an unparalleled cinematic experience.

Regal Cinemas: A Movie Lover’s Paradise

The Irvine Spectrum Center’s movie theater, known initially as Edwards Cinema 21, was once the largest movie theater in the Western United States.

With its impressive 21 screens and over two miles of pink and purple neon lights, it was nicknamed “The Big One.” In 2020, the theater underwent a makeover and reopened as Regal Cinemas, boasting a modern, updated look.

Seasonal Events at Irvine Spectrum Center

Irvine Spectrum Center is renowned for its diverse range of seasonal events, offering unique experiences for visitors throughout the year.

Irvine Spectrum Center
Irvine Spectrum Center” by Nandaro is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Winter Wonderland

During the winter, Irvine Spectrum Center transforms into a magical destination featuring several key events:

Skating Under The Stars: Held at the Giant Wheel Court, this event runs through January 7, 2024. Visitors can experience the joy of outdoor ice skating, adding a touch of winter charm to the sunny Californian climate​​.

Nightly Tree Lighting: Another highlight is the nightly tree lighting at the Giant Wheel Court, continuing until January 7, 2024. Every evening from 5 pm to 11 pm, guests can witness a spectacular choreographed light show, creating a mesmerizing holiday atmosphere​​.

Silent Night Disco: For a unique twist, the center hosts the Silent Night Disco on November 25 and December 16 from 6 pm to 9 pm. This event combines the fun of a disco with the serenity of a silent night, offering a novel and entertaining experience​​.

Santa Photos: A quintessential holiday activity, visitors can capture festive memories with Santa photos near Old Navy, available until December 24, 2023​​.

These winter events provide a lively, festive atmosphere, drawing families and friends together for memorable holiday experiences.

Summer Celebrations

The summer season at Irvine Spectrum Center is equally engaging, characterized by its vibrant outdoor activities and events:

Shopping and Dining: The center boasts fresh summer styles and bold flavors, offering a dynamic shopping and dining experience. Visitors can explore new arrivals and indulge in the culinary delights of Southern California’s summer spirit​​.

Irvine Spectrum Center
Irvine Spectrum Center” by Nandaro is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Outdoor Entertainment: Throughout the summer, the center hosts various outdoor events. The array of activities features weekly outdoor fitness classes, performances by live bands, DJ sets, evening dance events, and open-air movie screenings.

These activities entertain and provide a communal space for locals and tourists to enjoy the warm weather and long summer nights​​.

The Irvine Spectrum Center is a beacon of entertainment and community spirit in Irvine, CA. Its seasonal events, from winter to summer celebrations, cater to various interests and age groups.

These events enhance the shopping and dining experience and foster community and joy among visitors.

Whether it’s the enchantment of winter’s lights and ice skating or the vibrant energy of summer’s outdoor activities, the center offers a year-round destination for entertainment and enjoyment.

Experience Southern California’s Spirit

When you visit the Irvine Spectrum Center, you’ll be immersed in a world of style, dining, and entertainment that captures the essence of Southern California.

So stroll along the paseos and discover unique techniques, flavors, and experiences you won’t find anywhere else.

Enjoy alfresco cocktails under the sun, attend one of the starlit movie nights, and create unforgettable memories with friends and family. At Irvine Spectrum Center, something new and exciting is always waiting for you to explore.

In Conclusion

The Irvine Spectrum Center has come a long way since its inception in 1995. Its rich history, unique design, and diverse attractions make it a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike.

Offering an authentic Southern California experience with its blend of shopping, dining, and entertainment options, the Irvine Spectrum Center is a true testament to the spirit and energy of the region.

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