Architectural Design | Renzo Zecchetto Architects
Image ©Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center
The Eli & Edythe Broad Stage Theater The new state-of-the-art 540 seat theater for the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center provides a unique venue on the Westside of Los Angeles for opera, music, dance, lectures, film screenings, and an assorted mix of academic and community events. A central aim of the 30,000 sf theater is to provide an intimate experience within an architecturally grand setting. The small seating capacity allows the most distant audience member to make eye contact with the actor within a space capable of supporting the most demanding and ambitious productions of national and international significance.
Located in the heart of Santa Monica, the theater is set back 300 ft. from a main boulevard to reduce traffic noise. A large cantilevered overhang marks the entry plaza that serves as both gathering space and outdoor extension to the lobby. Inside the entry, the wood-clad mass of the theater house is enclosed in a low-iron glass wall that screens outside noise and crowns the soaring lobby space. The glass lobby, counterpointed by a dark basaltic stone facade, is illuminated at night like a lantern by the warm glow of the lit wood interior. The elevated space also takes advantage of the theater's proximity to the ocean by forming a natural thermal chimney that cools the lobby exclusively using captured sea breezes.
The interior of the theater is arranged in a relaxed horseshoe plan with custom designed seating and perimeter aisles. Cooled exterior air is quietly delivered directly to audience members through each seat pedestal at low velocity with considerable energy savings. A single balcony in the back and flanking side boxes wrap forward to the proscenium in a progression of intimate spaces. The auditorium is further delineated by a series of convex walls that seem to gently peel from the main shell. These architectural elements serve as sound reflectors, acoustical diffusers, opportunities for discreet theater lighting, and circulation buffers.
The acoustical mass of the materials was an important consideration in selecting the palette for the interior. The side boxes are CNC-milled from solid honduran mahogany panels and matched with the floors and seat backs. Absorptive materials such as carpet and upholstery are used judiciously and only when necessary in order to maintain the resonant values of the theater. The acoustics can be further tuned to the specific performance by the use of discreetly placed curtains, banners, and bass traps.
Photo 1 – 3 ©Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center
Photo 4 – 7 ©BennyChan
Photo 8-9 ©RobertBerger
Photo 10-11 ©Renzo Zecchetto Architects