Valley Performing Arts Center to Receive USITT Architecture Award

homepage-2The Valley Performing Arts Center at California State University Northridge has been chosen to receive an Architecture Merit Award from USITT, the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, USITT Executive Director David Grindle announced Monday. USITT is the professional association serving individuals and organizations in the performing arts and entertainment design and technology industry. USITT’s annual Architecture Awards recognize outstanding architecture in performance spaces.This year, an expert panel chose five venues – three in the U.S. and two in Europe – to receive 2013 Architecture Merit Awards. The awards will be presented at USITT’s 2013 Annual Conference & Stage Expo in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, next March 20-23. The panel did not bestow its top award, the Honor Award, this year. Two of the Merit award winners are in California – the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) at California State University in Northridge, and the Rosie the Riveter Visitor & Education at the World War II Home Front National Historic Park in Richmond.

The other Merit award winners are the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Midland, Texas; the Kilden Performing Arts Centre in Kristiansand, Norway; and the Garsington Opera Pavilion at Wormsley Park in Stokenchurch, High Wycombe, United Kingdom. The Valley Performing Arts Center has placed Cal State Northridge as the cultural hub of the San Fernando Valley and signaled its comeback from the devastation of the 1994 Northridge earthquake. At the center’s opening in January 2011, the Los Angeles Times predicted it would become “the signature landmark of the 52-year-old campus, drawing world-class orchestras, productions and entertainers while enhancing the university’s academics arts programs.”

The three-tiered, soaring glass complex, with an imposing cantilevered roof and soothing reflecting pool, houses two performance halls. It was designed by HGA Architects and Engineers, and took nearly 10 years and $125 million to complete. The theatre consultant for the project was Auerbach Pollock Friedlander, and acoustical Consultant was McKay Conant Hoover, Inc. USITT’s Architecture Award winners are chosen based on creativity, contextual resonance, functional operation, use of new technology and community contribution. Each project will be represented in a special exhibit at USITT’s 2013 Stage Expo in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where an awards reception will be held in their honor. The annual Stage Expo draws some 5,000 people nationwide and from 20-plus countries. It offers more than 200 training sessions, workshops, and demonstrations covering a broad range of topics from Chinese puppetry to themed entertainment such as Walt Disney and Universal Studios, to demystifying audio, to incorporating electronics into costume designs. USITT also presents awards in several categories including Distinguished Achievers, Rising Star and Architecture.

The 2013 winners were chosen by a panel that included Chicago-based Theatre DesignerRobert Shook of Schuler Shook, Dawn Schuette, architect and designer with Threshold Acoustics in Chicago, and Architect Timothy Hartung of Ennead Architects in New York.

About Peter Finlayson

Peter Finlayson is the Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-chief of FootLights magazine and While working on a prelaw program at the University of Michigan, he happily got involved with the theatre program. Much to his mother’s chagrin, law school never happened, but in a career spanning more than 4 decades, Peter has performed, directed or designed more than 150 productions. In his spare time, he is working on a new play. You can follow him on Twitter @Thtrdog .

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