The vision for the re-energized Cajon High School performing arts theater modernization and expansion was to evoke a theater experience that rises to the level of talent in Cajon High School’s robust theater program and provide a space that is supportive of its future.
...evoke a theater experience that rises to the level of talent in Cajon High School’s robust theater program...
The experience begins with a new courtyard and entry architecture that while respecting the existing aesthetics of the school, creates a bold statement appropriate for the performing arts. The courtyard and lobby were designed to encourage indoor/outdoor interaction and gathering before, during and after performances. Students, educators, parents and visitors will experience the “entry” designed with the goal of providing a space that inspires and excites. Concessions, information and ticket sales may all happen here giving the sense of a true performance space as well as a potential revenue generator to support the arts. The lobby was designed to provide an authentic pre-performance experience. The colors, finishes and materials selected were modern, bright and airy in order to project this facility into the 21st century.
Our design for the modernization of the Cajon High School theater worked from the bones of the existing facility. Visitors will enter the ‘House’ through a new vestibule that allows for patrons and students to enter/exit without disturbing performances. The restrooms from the previous modernization did not have an acoustical or light buffer from the main theater space. Use of the restrooms during a performance were disruptive in many regards. Catwalk lighting positions above the auditorium ceiling were re-worked to provide stage lighting functions, and service access. The catwalks were lowered by a few feet converting them from crawl spaces to that of a safe, standard catwalk to be safely utilized by students. Through the design and coordination with a renowned theater consultant, the pipe grid and related rigging above the stage were replaced and improved. The existing stage lighting dimming system was repaired and upgraded for compatibility with current equipment, including the installation of a control data distribution system and additional circuits. Existing stage lights were repaired and supplemented, including the addition of modern LED fixtures in selected locations, and the main stage curtain was replaced.
In addition to the upgraded theater technology, we gave the entire theater house a facelift. The design concept used horizontal maple bands that span across the theater and transition down to the ground that metaphorically “wrap” the audience and give the illusion of a much larger space without sacrificing intimacy. The design is meant to be functional as well as beautiful. Angled forms are strategically placed to allow for optimal sound engineering creating a “Live” theater experience that works well for both Music and Drama productions. Additionally, the stage floor was repaired where needed and refinished for the safety of performers.
Ultimately, our goal was to create an environment that addressed the technical theater needs, provide up-to-date technology while facilitating Flexibility, Functionality, Affordability and Fun! - Roger Clarke, President, Principal
The modernization also encompassed providing a gated service yard for prop and set building. In order to not trigger a complete structural retrofit, the lobby expansion was designed as a stand-alone structure that was seismically separated from the original building. Additionally, creating a direct connection from the lobby into an adjacent corridor leading to the stage allowed for the removal of a stage lift for accessible stage access that created poor sightlines for the audience. Minor adjustments to the existing concrete slab allowed for accessible seating to be located at the base of the theater space. This eliminated the need to maintain the intrusive and unsightly wheelchair spaces, complete with 6” curbs and guards, that were constructed during the previous modernization.