Facts – Vetting


Did you know?

In 2005, the Board approved an international competition to select a Master Designer for the first great park of the 21st Century.

Thirty-eight firms from around the world were invited to participate in the Master Designer competition. 24 highly respected design firms submitted proposals, which were reviewed by a design jury of industry experts. Seven semi-finalists were chosen to develop a conceptual design. These designs were reviewed by a second jury of experts and residents of the City of Irvine. In November 2005, Irvine City Council members, the Great Park Board of Directors, City and Corporation staff, and other delegates met with members of the three finalists teams and visited their offices and projects. In January 2006, the Board of Directors selected Ken Smith’s team as Master Designer.

HSNO alleges Gafcon was not vetted by the City. This is false.

The Great Park Design Studio and Gafcon were hired on the merit of their work through an international design competition involving 24 design teams reviewed by two separate juries of experts. Gafcon formed a joint venture with Ken Smith Landscape Architects on the recommendation of Mia Lehrer (a member of the Ken Smith team) and George Hargreaves, after the Hargreaves team, of which Gafcon was a member, was not selected as one of the final three.In the next stage of vetting, Directors and Corporation staff conducted site inspection visits of past projects and interviews of the three finalists, which included the Great Park Design Studio. Board members personally vetted and interviewed Gafcon over a two-day trip to New York City. Site visits and interviews were attended by:

  • Beth Krom, Christina Shea, Sukhee Kang, Steven Choi and Michael Pinto, Miguel Pulido and Larry Agran
  • Two Top Lennar Officials: Bob Santos, Executive Vice President and Kevin Hanson, Vice President of LNR Property Corporation
  • Wally Kreutzen
  • Colleen Clark
  • Marsha Burgess
  • Christina Lo (Templeton)
  • Glen Worthington
  • Diane Ghirardo, University of South California Architecture Professor and Consultant to the Great Park
  • Rob Thorton, City of Irvine General Counsel
  • Wendy Yang, Mark Lorge and Don Smith with EDAW

During the April 27, 2006 board meeting, many board members discussed their interviews with the Master Designer Finalists. Ms. Shea spoke about her interview with Gafcon.

    Just to comment on Director Ray’s comment about Gafcon, I will say that when I was back in New York, that the one, they provided the um, the presentation to us, at least a portion of presentation, I was nothing but um, kinda blown over by the fact that they knew what they were doing and they really have a history of putting together a budgetary process that made me feel very comfortable, that in fact they’re going to expect monies to be um, allocated appropriately and they’re gonna oversee this like they’re watching Fort Knox. That was my impression and I was very, very impressed with this company.
-Christina Shea, Great Park Corporation Board Member


HSNO alleges Gafcon’s references weren’t checked. This is false.

The City checked Gafcon’s references during the selection process for the Great Park Program Manager. This process occurred at the same time as the Great Park Master Designer competition. Watch the Vetting video to see Christina Templeton, the Great Park’s Manager of Engineering, discuss that Gafcon’s references were checked. See how Heritage Fields provided a reference for Gafcon.

HSNO alleges that Gafcon’s contract with the Port of Los Angeles was terminated. This is false.

Gafcon and its partner successfully completed the Port of Los Angeles San Pedro Waterfront Master Plan and won the American Planning Association’s Special Award of Merit. The Port of Los Angeles also recognized Gafcon’s outstanding work on the project.

HSNO implies that Gafcon had to be a member of the CMAA in order to perform its services at the Great Park. This is false.

This association is voluntary. There was no requirement that Gafcon or any other member of the Design Studio be a member of the CMAA. In fact, only 2.26% of all of the construction managers in the United States are members of this association. Most importantly, Gafcon was hired to be a design manager, not a construction manager on the Great Park project.

Gafcon’s management team was made of highly qualified and highly educated A/E/C industry professionals.

Gafcon’s management team brought more than 250 years of combined experience to the Design Studio, which was comprised of international design experts and seasoned technical experts in design, engineering, financial analysis and other areas.
Gafcon’s staff consisted of well-qualified professionals with the education, skills, and experience necessary to perform all duties as required by Gafcon’s scope of work for the Master Plan and Schematic Design contracts. Gafcon’s employees held Bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering, environmental engineering, building science, mathematics, urban studies and planning, business administration, science and environmental design. They also held Masters degrees in landscape architecture, civil engineering, business administration, science, engineering mechanics, urban and regional planning, environmental studies, public administration, and real estate development.