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Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts

Cerritos, California, USA


Barton Myers Associates, Inc., Architect; Los Angeles, CA
Theatre Projects Consultants, Theatre Consultant; London, England

Project Awards

1994 USITT Architecture Honor Award
1993 AIA Cabrillo - Honor Award for Design Excellence

Project Description

The heart of the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts is a unique auditorium that can be physically reconfigured to make its architectural form match the requirements of a particular performance. Its configurations range from an 1800-seat shoebox concert hall lined with seating boxes to a 1400-seat lyric theater/opera house with full flytower. A variation of the concert hall setting allows a centralized arena-type stage and 1900 seats, while a variation of the lyric theater setting creates a 900-seat drama theater. The architecture is detailed such that every setting looks elegantly permanent.

The acoustic envelope of the room is a rectangular masonry shell with two fixed balconies and a raised parterre at one end of the room. Precast planks form the ceiling at the ‘audience’ end of the room. Movable plywood-on-honeycomb ceiling panels close off the flytower for the concert hall configuration. A movable flipper at the proscenium is horizontal for the concert setting, angled for the lyric setting, and vertical for the drama setting. Most of the seats on the main floor move on castered wagons, with an array of lifts creating flat floors, orchestra pits, or raised stages.

The dominant elements in reshaping the room are the three-tiered seating box units that line the room. Each tier has a box and a circulation aisle behind the box. Perforated metal separates the aisle from the box and from the masonry envelope of the room. In the lower part of the room, heavy wood panels provide close reflections behind the perforated metal at the back of the box. In the upper part of the room the masonry envelope is fully exposed. Manually drawn acoustic curtains are stored in the columns that separate the boxes.

In the concert mode, the seating boxes run along the side walls and are closed across the rear by a two-tiered box unit with bleacher seating (for chorus or audience) in its base. For lyric mode, this rear wall unit moves back against the rear wall of the stagehouse; the side boxes at the stage pivot against the face of the rear wall unit; the side boxes at the stage front move towards centerline; and the side boxes flanking the audience pivot in to suggest a horseshoe opera house.

The room’s many configurations handle events from symphony to pop to chamber music to Broadway with élan.

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