A Mega-Molecule That Invaded The OC

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Though the upstanding citizens of Orange County, CA, tried to defend themselves against this crystalline molecule entity, their weapons were no use. Its translucent hulk dominated the skyline for years.


This gigantic, plastic structure was a kid's playground in the OC city of Irvine back in the late 1970s and early 80s, when nobody had heard of Orange County and people worried less about dangerous play areas. I grew up climbing around inside this thing, pretending it was a giant monster or a weird spaceship or some kind of mega molecule that was slowly digesting me.

It sat in the middle of Mason Park, a large area of wilderness near the University of California at Irvine. Unfortunately kids climbing on the outside of it got hurt, so the city removed this gorgeous cross between scifi art and playground equipment. In its place we got something lame like a jungle gym.

I always wondered if maybe the structure had actually been something that I dreamed until I came across Simonov's picture of it on Flickr. He took this in 1981 as a teenager, and that smudge inside the mega-molecule's digestive tract is his girlfriend. So you can see that it was a pretty large creation, on a hill overlooking a lake.

Anyone know who designed this, or what happened to it?

via Simonov



I lived in Irvine for 9 years, from 1995 to 2004. After reading this article, I now wish I had lived there earlier. I would have had a blast, even as an adult.

By the way, Annalee, you do know that Irvine, and UCI in particular, were used as sets for one of the Planet of the Apes movies, right?