AKA: Union Oil Company of California (UNOCAL), Harltey, Fred, Research Center, Brea, CA

Structure Type: built works - research structures

Designers: Austin, Field, and Fry, Architects (firm); Pereira, William L. and Associates Planning and Architecture (firm); John Corneby Wilson Austin (architect); Robert Field Jr. (architect); Charles Eugene Fry (architect); William Leonard Pereira (architect)

Dates: constructed 1950-1951, demolished 2010

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The Union Oil Company of California (UNOCAL) located its corporate research center on this 119-acre site in the early 1950s. It operated as a UNOCAL research and office facility until the company was puchased in 2005. Shortly thereafter, it was closed and the land redeveloped.

Building History

The UNOCAL Research Center complex was planned by the Los Angeles architectural firm of Austin, Field and Fry in the early 1950s. It was located at 376 South Valencia Avenue, Brea, CA, on the northeast corner of the Imperial Highway and South Valencia Avenue intersection. During the 1950s, the Union Carbide Company also operated a research center nearby on the northwest corner of the intersection at South Kraemer Boulevard and East Imperial Highway.

In 1993, UNOCAL, at the time going through some economic restructuring, moved 500 employees, 250 from its corporate headquarters in Los Angeles and 250 from an office in Schaumberg, IL, to two locations near its Brea research center. The Los Angeles Times stated: "Unocal will consolidate its Petroleum Products and Chemicals Division--including the marketing, accounting and personnel departments--in an office building at Saturn Street and Imperial Highway in Brea. Some of the relocated employees will work at the Fred L. Hartley Research Center--Unocal’s sole research and development facility, established in Brea 40 years ago. The research center now houses 590 employees." (See Susan Christian, Los Angeles Times.com, "Unocal to Transfer 500 : Workers to Brea Facilities," published 07/14/1993, accessed 09/30/2019.)

The ChevronTexaco Corporation, formed via a 2001 merger of the Standard Oil Company of California (Chevron) and Texaco, Incorporated, purchased UNOCAL in 2005, making this facility potentially superfluous. In 2007, a subsidiary, Chevron Land and Development, proposed to turn the site into a mixed-use shopping and residential area called "the Village at La Floresta," containing 1,100 new housing units and 156,800 square feet of commercial retail and office space. (Another 5.8-acre property, part of this Chevron development, was called Birch Hills. Chevron sited it near the southwest corner of Birch Street and Kraemer Boulevard, a tract containing 115 new units, all earmarked as affordable housing.) The Brea Planning Planning Commission okayed the Village at La Floresta and Birch Hills redevelopment plans in 09/2008, but the neighboring city of Yorba Linda filed a grievance arguing that the development's large scale would negatively affect public safety and traffic on Rose Drive, a main artery east of the sites. Chevron Land and Development paid the City of Yorba Linda a "traffic impact fee" of $250,000 to mitigate these effects. The city's resistance ceased. Children in the new housing units would attend the Brea Olinda Unified School District. (See Lou Ponsi, Orange County Register.com, "Council approves 1,300-home Brea development," published 05/19/2010, accessed 09/30/2019.)

The Village at La Floresta opened in 2016, with the main apartment building, Pearl La Floresta, opening in 2018.

Building Notes

Information on the Hartley Research Center can be found in the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections, Union Oil Company of California Records, 1884-2005. (See Online Archive of California.org, "Finding Aid for the Union Oil Company of California records, 1884-2005," accessed 09/30/2019.)

UNOCAL also operated another research center known as the "Pure Oil Research Center" in Crystal Lake, IL.


An auditorium at the research center was designed by Los Angeles William Pereira (.1909-1985).


The Hartley Research Center was torn down to make way for La Floresta Village.

PCAD id: 23125