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2011 OAC | Sample Sites | MCAS Tustin


Competition Site Proposal

The competition proposal is parcel #18, a 84.5 acre site which is designated as the future Orange County Urban Regional Park and includes Hanger #28. About a dozen historic structures still remain. (Optional: Hangar #29 to the south is part of the city's Disposition Package #7. It is slated to be torn down unless a developer proposes a reuse solution.)


Built in 1942 a few months after the U.S. entered World War II, the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) housed the Navy’s lighter-than-air (LTA) squadrons which conducted antisubmarine patrols off the Pacific Coast in its fleet of manned blimps. After the war MCAS was decommissioned, but in 1951 the Navy reactivated the base to handle rising tensions from the Korean War, solely dedicating it to helicopter operations. The base played a major role in the Vietnam conflicts during the 1960s and 70s, as well as, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the early 1990s. Due to their activity in such Naval events, the two giant blimp hangers located on the base were designated into the National Register of historic places in 1973.

Prior to the construction of the base, Tustin was a quiet agricultural town surrounded by acres of orange groves and agricultural fields. The MCAS site was used by local farmers to grow lima beans as part of Orange County’s vibrant agricultural history. Even in the 1980s the Navy leased 350 acres of the base to farmers for commercial crop development, however, light industrial and manufacturing uses had surrounded the site. By the 1990s urban encroachment limited the use of the aviation facilities and the end of the Cold War reduced its necessity. In 1991 MCAS was selected for decommissioning through the Base Realignment and Closure Act, and it officially closed on July 3, 1999.


After closing in 1999, redevelopment plans were drawn for the airbase. The question remained: how could the hangars be reused? Both the county of Orange and the city of Tustin hosted design competitions calling for a creative reuse solution for the blimp hangars. Despite interest from designers and a number of proposals, the competitions failed when the city declared that reuse of the structures was not economically viable. The hangars currently sit empty waiting for environmental clean up and adaptive reuse. In August 2011, the city of Tustin, acting as master developer, released an RFQ searching for interested developers. Hangar #28 is proposed as part of the county’s urban regional park, while Hangar #29 will most likely be demolished based on submitted plans from potential developers. Through innovative, sustainable design, we hope that these historic structures can be saved and reused. A nostalgic symbol of Orange County, these structures contribute to the military history and greater community of the area.

View 2011_OAC_mapping in a larger map

Downloadable Materials:

Project Brief

History of the Hangars

RFQ from 2003 reuse competition

RFQ from 2005 reuse competition

Disposition Strategy

PDF master plan

PDF parcel #18 map

Contact Information:

Orange County: County Operator 714.834.5400

OC Parks:

Tustin Legacy - City of Tustin Community Redevelopment Agency:

More Info and Photos:

1999 Aerial (Tustin Legacy)

2009 Aerial (Tustin Legacy)

The Tustin Hangars: Titans of History.pdf

Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields

The California State Military Museum

The Tustin Area Historical Society

info on

Google map locator

Video About the Hangars:

The Tustin Hangars: Titans of History

Relevant Articles:

Tustin gives OK to raze blimp hangar | Los Angeles Times

Tustin Seeks Developers... |

A legacy in limbo |

Future uncertain for 2 Tustin blimp hangars |

Tustin blimp hangars' history comes to life |

If you have additional info (including plans, CAD drawings), please contact us at


Tustin Ranch Road
Tustin, California
United States
Project posted by challenge team


Project Details

NAME: 2011 OAC | Sample Sites | MCAS Tustin
LOCATION: Tustin Ranch Road, Tustin, California, United States
START DATE: September 30, 2011
CURRENT PHASE: Schematic Design

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