Au revoir D.C.! Solar Decathlon relocates to sunny Southern California
It's official: The SD is landing in the OC. Having taken place in Washington, D.C., since its inception, the 2013 edition of the Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon will be located in Irvine, Calif.
Thu, Jan 26 2012 at 3:40 PM
Well, it looks like the Solar Decathlon
officially has a new home and it’s not exactly a big shocker that the 2013 edition will not
be held in or around Washington, D.C.
Prior to and after the 2011 Solar Decathlon
— which was relocated
, somewhat last-minute, from the National Mall to nearby West Potomac Park after the National Park Service officially gave the collegiate green home building showdown the boot
— the biennial event’s director, Richard King, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu were transparent
about their desire to move future Solar Decathlons completely away from the nation's capitol, the event’s birthplace and home since 2002. Still, it remained unclear exactly how far away they were thinking.
For completely selfish reasons, I had my fingers crossed that the Solar Decathlon’s new digs would remain somewhere in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic. You know, so I could easily hop on a train from New York and travel to the event as I did in 2009
. I was really
hoping for Central Park in 2013. But no such luck for me as the next Solar Decathlon will take place in … wait for it … Orange County.
In a somewhat, in my opinion, drastic move (couldn’t we have slowly eased ourselves over to the West Coast?) the event will happen at Orange County Great Park
in Irvine, Calif. Situated about 50 miles south of Los Angeles, Orange County Great Park is a new, ambitiously scaled (1,347 acres) attraction located on a portion of what used to be Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, a massive military aviation complex that was decommissioned in 1999. With an aim to become the “First Great Metropolitan Park of the 21st
Century,” only a small chunk of Orange County Great Park has actually been realized at this point with current features including a hot air balloon ride (can you spot it in the above ariel shot?), a playground, and an arts complex (check out OCGP’s mighty impressive Master Plan
to see what else in the works).
So there you have it, folks. The 2013 Solar Decathlon will be located at a former airfield that's about a 20-minute drive away from Disneyland. Remarks Richard King in a blog posted earlier today:
The Orange County Great Park is an awesome venue for hosting the Solar Decathlon competition and exhibition. This is the site of the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, which the City of Irvine is turning into sustainable parkland for family recreation. The park features a paved runway on which we will build our solar village, which should make set-up for teams easier while providing a pleasant experience for visitors.
The Orange County Great Park has tremendous potential to make Solar Decathlon 2013 bigger and better than ever. Add 20 collegiate teams brimming with new design innovations and a strong competitive spirit, and we are sure to have a spectacular event.
On that note, also announced
earlier today were the 20 collegiate teams that will be duking it out at Orange County Great Park come the fall of '13. It’s a strong lineup with a handful of of repeat contenders including a favorite of mine from 2011, Middlebury College
, plenty of international flavor (Austria and the Czech Republic!), and a decent amount of entrants from California and the Southeast. Check out the full line-up, below. But before you do, tell me what you think about this East Coast-to-West Coast location change in the comments section. Any diehard Solar Decathlon attendees bummed about the new spot? Do you think you'll make the trek to view the homes in person? And SoCal residents: are you excited to be hosting? OCGP looks like a lovely spot for the event, but I'm slightly on the fence regarding the decision. However, despite my reservations, I do know this much: the 2013 Solar Decathlon will be blessed with much better weather and much better parking than in past years.
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