The $125-million Valley Performing Arts Center at California State University, Northridge, built by C.W. Driver and designed by HGA Architects & Engineers, opened its doors late last month.
C.W. Driver says the 166,000-sq-ft VPAC is highlighted by “dynamic construction” that utilized a complex combination of variable tuning components, state-of-the-art technology and a displacement ventilation system, each of which raises the bar for the future construction of performing arts facilities.
The builder says that helping set VPAC apart is the use of some 34,000 sq ft of cloth and wooden acoustic panels in the 1,700-seat main concert hall that provides a second-to-none sound delivery accommodating orchestra, opera, Broadway, film and dance. The facility also was built to exceed LEED silver specifications.
VPAC stands prominently on the easily accessible southwest corner of the CSUN campus. It is comprised of two connected buildings forming one U-shaped, multi-use building wrapped around a central exterior courtyard. For the building containing the main concert hall, C.W. Driver built a dramatic glass lobby wall that visually opens VPAC’s interior to the campus. Stone, stone tile and glass embrace the lobby as a grand staircase sweeps upward three levels to the upper balcony and rooftop terrace.
C.W. Driver says it constructed VPAC’s main concert hall with a spacious professional stage-house with an 85-ft-high full fly-tower that is equipped with a 60-line set rigging system, space at the back of the stage for orchestra shell tower storage, a hydraulic stage extension/pit lift and generous backstage maneuvering space. Also included is a 175-seat studio theater (or, black box theater), two large rehearsal rooms (one of which has the exact dimensions as VPAC’s main stage), academic and professional production support spaces, theatre studio-classrooms, a 230-seat lecture hall, offices and facilities for the campus’ public radio station, KCSN 88.5 FM.
VPAC’s complex structure demanded 880 sheets of drawings in seven volumes and was modeled down to one-one hundredth of an inch using 3-D BIM technology, helping solve potential problems before the actual construction began. C.W. Driver fully modeled the project in 2006 — when few people were using BIM — and also incorporated 4-D (schedule) and 5-D (cost).
The builder says it installed a series of underground tunnels and basements including air plenums for a mechanical system that silently supplies air to the auditorium and lobby. Below-ground A/C units with floor vents supply displacement ventilation so visitors cannot hear or feel air movement, even while in their seats. The air flows through 622 floor diffusers throughout the seating area supplied by the air plenums in the floor. The air units help save energy because they are four-times smaller than the norm and deliver air at a lower rate.
C.W. Driver constructed the building’s foundation in several stages. First, the lower foundation and column pads were put in, followed by the initial steel and the pouring of more foundation which encapsulated the initial steel. Then, more steel was added. Mechanical equipment was brought in early to put into the basements while the steel was being erected. This was done because the A/C units are so large that they needed to go in before capping the basement with the floor structure above. A network of underground concrete tunnels was built to supply air conditioning from these units to the theater. Once this was built, the building was constructed around and above it.
Joining Curry on the C.W. Driver team was Sam Huleis, senior project manager and Steve Galland, senior on-site superintendent. Consultants include Auerbach Pollock Friedlander, performing arts/media facilities planners; McKay Conant Hoover, Inc., acoustic and media systems consultants; and Pamela Burton & Co., landscape architecture.