Cal State Fullerton
Performing Arts Center
Performing Arts Center Grand Opening

For many years Cal State Fullerton's College of the Arts, specifically performance arts, has been bursting at the seams, physically and creatively. That all changes Jan. 13, 2006, when the university unveils its new Performing Arts Center -- 109,000 square feet of performance, rehearsal, laboratory, studio and technical spaces that not only will expand the theatre, dance and music programs' physical capabilities, but allow imaginations to soar and explore new artistic possibilities.

Beyond the Dream

This new era for Cal State Fullerton's performing arts is called "Beyond the Dream," says Jerry D. Samuelson, dean of the College of the Arts. "We spent some time coming up with a theme or idea, and we finally settled on 'Beyond the Dream,' because this is a dream come true. But, it doesn't stop here, which is why we chose the word 'beyond.' We see this as a significant beginning -- this will change dramatically what our departments can do with this new environment. It's our opportunity to take this facility and run with it."

The "show" begins as guests approach the Performing Arts Center from a newly created promenade leading from the Nutwood Parking Structure and Visual Arts Center. Dramatic glass walls along the front of the facility give the lobby an open, airy and welcoming feeling. Inside, the spacious lobby -- with its mix of cherry wood, glass and textile design elements -- will serve as a reception area for the Vaughncille Joseph Meng Concert Hall, as well as the James D. Young and Dale and Millie Hallberg theatres.

A World Class Concert Hall

With 800 seats, the Meng Concert Hall is the center's largest performance space. Designed specifically for music, it will be home to the university's choral and instrumental ensembles, in addition to visiting artists.

"This will take us from having an adequate facility to a world-class concert hall," says Marc R. Dickey, chair and associate professor of music. "We'll be able to 'tune' the hall by moving the acoustic canopy up and down, as well as the curtains on the sides. Even the seats have been designed, so that, whether there are 200 or 800 people in the audience, it will sound the same. When you hear an oboe solo, you're going to feel like you can reach out and touch the musician."

A Dramatic Theatre and Room to Dance

Major dramatic productions will be performed in the Young Theatre, a 250-seat, thrust-stage venue -- with floor and balcony seating on three sides -- making the theater-going experience more intimate for audience and actors alike.

Built in the black box tradition with flexible seating such as "in-the-round," the Hallberg Theatre will feature experimental productions and new plays.

"Most schools have proscenium [the most typical formation with audience sitting in front of a stage framed on sides and top] and black box theaters, but very few have state-of-the-art thrust-seat theaters," says Susan Hallman, chair and professor of theatre and dance. "And, very few have state-of-the-art concert halls that are exclusively designed for music -- they're usually multipurpose spaces."

Upstairs, the McGarvey Family Dance Studio will accommodate instruction and performance -- with seating for 50 -- and will serve as the site to showcase new dance choreography, as well as individual dance recitals.

Cutting Edge

Read more:

» Article: "Performing Arts Center: Space for imagination and creativity"

» Article: "Deborah Voigt: A star's radiant voice soars"

» Article: "Campus prepares a three-day opening celebration"

» Interview: "Jerry Samuelson: A dean's vision becomes reality"

» Article: "Alumni before and behind the stagelights"

» Article: "See the stars of tomorrow"

» Performing Arts awards & honors

» Scheduled Performing Arts events

» Photo Gallery: Performing Arts Center

» Photo Gallery: Performing Arts events

Just as vital as what audiences see on stage are the behind-the-scenes activities and support. Up-to-date technology and design are integrated into the building's lighting and sound systems, rehearsal spaces, costume and scene shops, makeup, lighting and recording studios, dressing and warm-up rooms -- providing students and faculty members the environments needed to enrich the learning experience.

"This brings us to the cutting edge of technology, like CAD [computer-aided design]," says Hallman. "All of the drafting for set design, lighting, costume and props is done on computers. Students have to know this, because it's the standard in the industry."

The spacious scene shop was designed to be adjacent to the Little Theatre in the original Performing Arts Center. Previously, says Hallman, "sets and props had to be built in pieces in the basement and then carried up stairs. Now, we can build sets to size and roll it into the Little Theatre or roll it down a short hallway to the Young Theatre."

Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, now known as Pfeiffer Partners Inc., served as the architectural firm. Kajima Construction Services Inc. led phase one of the construction, followed by Hensel Phelps Construction Co., which headed phase two. Mark Rothermel of McKay Conant Brook Inc. is the acoustician. Stephen Chamberlain of design and construction is campus project manager.

Orchestra Orchestra Orchestra
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