Robert Frost Auditorium
Project: Robert Frost Auditorium
Location: Culver City, California / USA
Credit: Lane Barden
The Robert Frost auditorium opened in 1964. The structure is an engineering masterpiece with a folded thin-shell concrete roof and a clear span of 210 feet. Its transformation into a modern performing arts center required a synthesis of interventions within the existing structure marked by the construction of a theatrical grid and catwalks, light weight acoustic panels which double as air distribution “trumpets”, and the replacement of the outmoded central air handling system with individual units on the periphery of the shell. The curved form of the existing roof, its structural constraints and sight lines for the audience inspired aradical support for the newly required catwalks, which came in the form of a monumental steel proscenium arch that spans the stage and curves out over the audience to support the catwalks and lighting equipment without placing pressure on the fragile roof. Other changes to reconfigure the massive air handling equipment enabled us to insert a double height experimental black box theater into the resulting volume.Additional modifications include a new glass façade, a new, pedestrian-oriented plaza, reconfiguration of support spaces, and the creation of a system to bath the acoustic panels with soft lighting.Throughout the project, we took special care to provide the audience members with a dramatic environment to prepare them for the performance.