Orange Coast College Planetarium

A Stunning Exterior.

The stunning exterior of the Orange Coast College Planetarium juxtaposes a spiral-shaped conventional structure, a conical tower, and a beautiful blue dome.

Dave South / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

The new Orange Coast College (OCC) Planetarium has a Monolithic Dome at its center. The structure surrounding the dome echoes the shape of our Milky Way galaxy. Ten years of planning and design went into creating the new facility. The college wanted an iconic and inspiring structure for its planetarium and chose Newport Beach-based HPI Architecture to design it.

The contrast of modern lines, a tower, and a blue dome peeking out from the center of the building draws visitors inside. Upon entering the main lobby, the dome is visible, and the spiral galaxy-shaped museum contains exhibits, a ticket booth, restrooms, and a gift shop.

Blue Steel.

The outer shell of the Monolithic Dome theater is constructed of modern blue steel.

Dave South / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

An elegant three-shell design was created for the 70-foot-diameter (21 m) planetarium theater. A 50-foot-diameter (15 m) hemispherical screen resides inside a Monolithic Dome, which has an outer shell of blue steel anchored to its exterior.

The innermost shell, the 50-foot projection screen, is tilted forward about 12 degrees, and features 124 reclined seats. The state-of-the-art Digistar 6 video system projects 8K resolution video from six Sony GTZ270 laser projectors set strategically around the room to mesh the six images into one seamless, beautiful picture.

Schoolchildren visit the planetarium every Wednesday. Since it opened on March 23, 2019, at least 17,000 students have attended diverse programs at the dome. The planetarium hosts weddings, corporate events, industry panels, and proposals. Custom visual presentations are paired with the latest astronomy-themed films, and popular laser shows are offered monthly.

In 2022, the OCC planetarium was selected as the venue for Dome Fest West, an annual festival showcasing the best new 360-degree, immersive film experiences.

A Cosmic View.

Every seat in the Planetarium enjoys a comfortable, 360-degree view of cosmic wonders like the images from the James Webb Telescope of the Eagle Nebula.

Dave South / Monolithic Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0