The 540-seat Broad Stage provides a unique venue for opera, music, dance, lectures, film screenings, and various academic and community events at Santa Monica College’s Performing Arts campus. The 32,000 sf theater provides an intimate experience within an architecturally grand setting. The most distant audience member can make eye contact with the performer within a space capable of supporting the most demanding and ambitious of productions.
A large cantilevered overhang marks the entry plaza that serves as 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.
The glass lobby, anchored by a dark basaltic stone façade, 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 with 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 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 used of discreetly placed curtains and banners.