2016 P/A Award Winner
The Arts Council for Long Beach, Calif., had one major requirement in its competition brief to design a new arts space for the city: The venue had to be mobile. With diverse neighborhoods and a glut of city-owned vacant lots, a movable venue could bring more arts to more of the population.
The winning design, from a team led by Los Angeles–based design firms 64North and Formation Association with BuroHappold and Steve Roden, will arrive at these vacant lots on the back of a flatbed truck. A large black cube called the Long Beach Mobile ArtSpace, it is mysterious and seemingly inert. At night, however, its reflective sides come to life with an LED light show. And prior to shows, a solar-powered, internally lit balloon will float high above, acting as a beacon to lure people to the site and the strange black cube.
Instead of a curtain rising, the cube unfolds, its four sides dropping down to form a stage that is reconfigurable up to 930 square feet. Inside, the cube houses all of the necessary lighting, audio, and electrical gear, plus components like a steel armature to hold equipment. It also includes three more industrial-sized balloons that, when tethered to the stage, support the lighting rig, as well as fold-up shelving for a stand-alone green room—one configuration of the cube—for performers. Groups like the Long Beach Opera and a Cambodian dance troupe plan to use the stage, and the sides of the box can be raised and lowered to facilitate movie screenings, public meetings, or other events. After a series ends, the stage can be repacked into its black cube to await transport to the next site.
In its first year, the Mobile ArtSpace will host events in each of Long Beach’s nine city council districts. The next year, it will travel to other Southern California communities that suffer from insufficient access to the arts. The Arts Council for Long Beach is currently conducting a $5.25 million fundraising campaign to cover construction and operations, and the project is anticipated to debut on its first vacant site in summer 2017. —Nate Berg
Client/Owner: Arts Council for Long Beach
Architect: 64North, Los Angeles . Wil Carson (design director); Andrew Smith-Rasmussen (senior associate); Melissa Diracles, John Brockway (team)
Environmental Designer: Formation Association . John K. Chan, AIA (design director)
Structural and Electrical Engineer: BuroHappold Engineering
Artist: Steve Roden
Lighting Designer: Sean O’Connor Lighting
Theater Design & Acoustics: Stages
Size: 930 square feet (stage); 1,100 square feet (canopy)
Cost: $2.3 million
This post has been updated to reflect the collaborative nature of the project.