Auerbach Pollock Friedlander Completes Work at CSU Northridge

Great Hall

Auerbach Pollock Friedlander, Performing Arts/Media Facilities Planning and Design, has completed work on the Valley Performing Arts Center at California State University, Northridge.

Auerbach Pollock Friedlander collaborated with HGA Architects on the programming, planning and design through construction of the new Valley Performing Arts Center with the goal of supporting the California State University, Northridge programs and service the broader community's needs. The firm provided full scope theatre consulting services for the 166,000 square-foot multi-use complex which includes the 1,700-seat Great Hall, a multi-purpose performance hall for orchestra, opera, Broadway performances, film, contemporary music and dance, a 178 seat flexible experimental theatre with backstage support and classrooms and a 232-seat lecture hall, rehearsal and events spaces, costume and scene shops.

Great Hall

The 1,700-seat Great Hall is an acoustically flexible proscenium venue with a three tier seating configuration and excellent sightlines, a full fly tower, motorized and manual rigging systems, a custom orchestra shell, computerized theatrical lighting, orchestra pit lift and front-of-house sound mix lift to host a variety of events from lectures to symphonic orchestras, drama, film and concerts.

As the newest large touring show venue in Southern California, the stage configuration and equipment will support any production on the road. The stage is 114' wide and 50'deep with a proscenium that can be adjusted from 40' to 54' wide and 25' to 31' in height. Two semi trucks and one panel van can simultaneously load directly onto the stage.

The scenery, stage drapes and stage lighting can be manipulated with the manual counterweight system comprised of 60 linesets. Rigging battens are 76' long and can be loaded to lift up to 2,400 lbs each. A gridiron 76' over the stage allows the technicians to rig special heavy weight loads anywhere over the stage as well as simultaneously store scenery for multiple productions.

The floor is sprung for dancers and acoustic resonance with special support structure for heavy stage loads. Within the 12' x 24' trap area, any combination of 3'x 6' panels can be removed for scenic effects or performer entry.

There are 636 individually controllable theatrical lighting circuits throughout the stage and many front-of-house lighting positions available for theatre, concert and house lighting. Additional switched power is distributed for application of moving lights and accessories. The lighting control systems allows concert and lectures to be run from simple touch screen panels, while more complex productions are controlled with sophisticated and flexible computer lighting control consoles.

The design of the custom orchestra shell side walls and ceiling was carefully coordinated with the Architect and Acoustics Consultant to complement the audience chamber finishes and provide the necessary acoustic performance. The walls and ceiling are comprised of modular units designed for rapid set up of ensembles and orchestras of all sizes. The 24'-0' tall orchestra shell towers are moved on a custom transport cart and adjustable ceiling reflector panels with integral orchestra lighting travel on motorized battens for storage and acoustic adjustment. The massive orchestra shell can be set up by a minimal crew in under an hour. The entire shell ceiling can be demounted for infrequent occasions where their loft space may be needed for very large touring productions.

A full width forestage rigging grid above the orchestra lighting canopy provides a work platform for installing touring lighting trusses as well as a support and service area for all of the front-of-house motorized rigging, including two lighting battens, three loudspeaker arrays and an articulating architectural eyebrow. Loudspeakers can be stored out of audience view by raising them on individual computer controlled hoists and lifting the center array through a motorized hatch in the architectural ceiling.

The Great Hall is unique as it has been designed to support a full range of film industry and University film events from premieres to film festivals. The control booths are designed to support multiple film formats and the variable acoustic system reduces the room reverberation time required for orchestra to a range appropriate for film.

A combination of custom designed and modified standard motorized variable acoustic draperies are integrated into the audience chamber architecture and out of view from the public. A push button preset station allows user selectable positioning of the drapery machines via a programmable computer-controlled system providing automatic varying acoustic resonance in the room to the appropriate levels for every acoustic need.

The orchestra lift is capable of raising 27,000 lbs from the orchestra pit to the stage elevation. Seating wagons provide rapid change over from audience seating on the lift to stage extension or orchestra pit configuration. The in-house mix lift allows amplified events to quickly install a sound mixing console for live audio mixing in the center of the room with elevation control to eliminate sightline impact. The sound console can be lowered on the lift to a storage garage under the audience seating. The lift is then raised to audience level for the installation of removable chairs. This allows for a seamless transition from sound mixing position to audience seating configuration.

The Great Hall and the large rehearsal room will be used by national and local touring companies, smaller arts organizations and will also be available for film premieres, conferences, meetings and other film industry events. The studio theatre, studio terrace, shops, light lab, costume shop, design studio and related support spaces will be occupied by the CSUN Mike Curb College of Arts Media and Communication.

With sustainability as a key design goal, the building is expected to achieve LEED Silver certification with the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

The Valley Performing Arts Center opened on January 29, 2011 with a star studded gala for Los Angeles celebrities and county leaders.

Flexible Theatre

The 178-seat flexible theatre is a multiform experimental flat floor space with variable platforms for tiered seating in end stage, arena or thrust performance configurations. A computerized lighting control system and ample power is provided for technical needs. Large loading doors offer a direct connection to the scene shop which allows easy installation of production specific scenery as well as a buffer storage area for live production set changes.

The flexible theatre is designed to provide an intimate environment with ample technical support appropriate for teaching and experimenting with live performance styles. The floor is sprung for dance and robust for heavy scenic loads. The walls are equipped with integrated construction framing channel for attachment of scenic elements or technical devices. Overhead is a tension grid ceiling made of woven aircraft cable providing technicians a safe walking surface through which lighting fixtures can be focused and theatrical elements can be rigged anywhere in the room. Overhead, steel beams and channels provide a rigging support structure for suspended elements. A modular seating system allows up to 178 seats to be deployed in arena, thrust or end stage configurations. The seating system is flexible to allow production designers a creative tool to utilize other seating configurations for individual production needs. 120 individually-controlled dimmed circuits, as well as switched circuits and ample production power are provided for use by the production designers.

Rehearsal Spaces

The large rehearsal room provides rehearsal space equivalent to the performance area in the Great Hall, with a full overhead lighting grid, computer controlled lighting system, production power and surround draperies for both light control and variable acoustics. The room is designed to also accommodate catered events and conference functions.

The Terrace Reharsal Room is designed for flexible theatre rehearsals with a full lighting grid, production power and surround drapery. Direct access to the scene shop provides easy install of scenery for rehearsal. A large glass wall facing the arts center plaza opens for access to support large events and/or indoor/outdoor performances.

Lecture Hall

The 232-seat lecture hall is configured with fixed tiered seating for classroom lectures and multi-media presentations. All seats are provided with tablet arms.

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