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Irvine Valley Performing Arts Center

Irvine, California

Located on a small community college campus, this new 40,000 square foot building houses the Drama, Dance and Music departments of the school.

The existing campus, built in 1970’s on flat agricultural land, is a loose-knit collection of mostly one and two-story brick buildings and lacks an identifiable landmark. The design intent for the project was to create a cost-effective, yet unique, icon for the campus and one that functions flexibly for a wide variety of performance and learning uses.

The building is comprised of a large lobby, a 400-seat multi-purpose theater with a balcony and proscenium stage, a 100-seat black box theater, 50-seat music and dance venue, a full scene shop and wardrobe shop, as well as classrooms, offices and storage.

The main theater is positioned at the center of the floor plan, with the other venues and support spaces surrounding it. In the European theater tradition, a balcony wraps around the orchestra seating, creating an intimate feel in the hall.
The hall features a modern proscenium stage that has a small forestage projection, as well as an orchestra pit and lift. The black box theater and music/dance venue allow for the flexible staging of experimental productions.

The site is at the western gateway to the campus and, being visible from two major thoroughfares, the design of the building announces its presence with a dramatic statement. Large-scale angular walls wrap the theater volume and creating a striking silhouette as they fold up, down and around the lower program components. The double-high glass lobby is contrasted with the solidity of these walls and creates a welcoming entrance to the building.

From ARQ website:

This new performing arts center houses program components for the three performing arts departments, drama, dance and music, and brings together students and faculty members for close exploration and collaboration. The facility’s planning and design accommodates their individual needs as well as their common goals within a modest budget. At the physical heart of the building is a 400-seat multi-purpose theater with a single level balcony that wraps around the orchestra seating, creating a more intimate feeling. The forestage projection and an orchestra pit capable of rising to stage level accommodate a variety of production and presentation types. The facility also includes a 50-seat music hall and a 100-seat black box experimental theater allowing for flexible staging and experimental productions. The building takes advantage of the visibility of its site, being located at the edge of the campus and at the intersection of major vehicular thoroughfares, by making a bold architectural Statement. In its plan and forms, the building symbolizes the diversity and vitality of activities it houses. A folding angular wall wraps around the theater volume creating dramatic perspectives. This wall is also the organizing element around which other program elements are placed. The glass-enclosed lobby allows light and view into the inner life of the facility while announcing the public entrance to the building

Designed under the direction of Christopher Coe while Managing Director and Director of Design of Arquitectonica Los Angeles.

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