Project Highlight: De Anza College Performing Arts Center

The new De Anza College Visual and Performing Arts Center in Cupertino, California held its grand opening March 6-8. The 20,500 square foot building on Stevens Creek Boulevard is a unique resource for the arts in Silicon Valley and was largely funded by the community it serves.

Thorburn Associates teamed with DES Architects to provide acoustic and audiovisual consulting for this state-of-the-art project featuring a 400-seat theater and adaptable, technologically advanced learning spaces. LEED-silver certification is being sought for the building.

One of the biggest challenges was finding space for all the technology gear, given that the Center is multi-purpose, serving as both a teaching and performing space. (Somehow, everything fits!) The theater was designed to accommodate lectures, dance and music (both plugged and unplugged), cinema and drama, and to facilitate rapid changeovers from one use to another. These changeovers were put to the test during the grand opening, and passed with high marks.

Elements are designed to fly up or slide out of the way so that one configuration can give way to the next quickly and easily. Sliding acoustical panels line the walls on either side of the theater and extend from floor to ceiling. These panels can be adjusted manually to tune the room – from a “live” space for dance to a “soft” space for cinema. Adjustable acoustical reflectors are suspended over the stage and the audience and operate in conjunction with the acoustical band shell for music.

The loudspeaker system for lectures, musical, and theatrical/spoken word performances consists of a set of left-center-right line arrays. For cinema, a second set of loudspeaker clusters flies up and down along with the screen, which is 15 feet by 41 feet to accommodate a variety of historical film aspect ratios. The cinema surround loudspeaker system has been designed to support sound effects in other productions. There is a digital video projector and a pair of film projectors with dual 16mm/35mm capability. In addition to designing the presentation system, TA provided construction administration and commissioning for the AV system to help assure it met our client’s goals. The high caliber of this facility is not often seen in colleges and we were honored to be part of it.