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Valley Performing Arts Center at California State University, Northridge

HGA Architects and Engineers

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18111 Nordhoff Street





California State University, Northridge


  • General Contractor: C.W. Driver
  • Landscape Architect: Pamela Burton & Company
  • Lighting Designer: HGA Architects and Engineers
  • Structural Engineer: HGA Architects and Engineers
  • Civil Engineer: HGA Architects and Engineers
  • Mechanical Engineer: HGA Architects and Engineers
  • Electrical Engineer: HGA Architects and Engineers
  • Plumbing Engineer: HGA Architects and Engineers
  • McKay Conant Hoover, Inc.
  • Auerbach Pollack and Friedlander
  • McKay Conant Hoover, Inc.

Project Status


Year Completed



166,000 sq. feet

Construction Cost


Certifications and Designations



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Project Description

The Valley Performing Arts Center is located at a busy, public edge of the Califorma State University, Northridge campus, on Nordhoff Street, a major city thoroughfare. The center’s grand glass lobby anchors the south end of the university’s central mall, encouraging the public to utilize the university campus, and provides an alternate arts venue to the downtown Los Angeles halls. The center consists of a 1,700-seat hall that serves the San Fernando Valley and the greater Los Angeles area. Educational spaces for the university’s Theater Department, a large lecture hall used by the entire campus, and studio spaces for the university’s public radio station KCSN FM are also included. Graceful arcs of glass, white plaster, and stone capture the sun and sweep north, pulling into the campus from Nordhoff Street. These arcs contrast with the rectilinear metal panel courtyard massing which recalls the surrounding campus structures. Staccato white ceiling planes float above the lobby’s stone floor plinth. These panels cascade down the lobby walls to stone wainscoting that sweeps up from the stone floor. The hall is dramatically sculpted with undulating anegre wood ribbons that ripple in to the stage. These wood ribbons, shaped to create a rich acoustic environment, transition to stainless steel mesh screening over variable acoustic panels. The hall is designed to easily accommodate disparate performance types. Thus one night there can be a full orchestra performing live on stage and the next evening a film premiere where the acoustic environment must be controlled through hidden acoustic curtains and surround sound speakers. Tight budget and escalating costs engendered a design process that included close collaboration with the client and construction manager throughout to maintain the client’s original desire for a dramatic, vibrant, signature building. Materials were found that were easily procurable or of which there was a surplus in the area. Design decisions like the lobby ceiling were developed using identical gypsum board panels that were made at ground level and have varied stud legs. This reduced scaffolding time, allowed for efficient, inexpensive lighting fixtures to be utilized, and concealed structural, fire suppression and HVAC elements.
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