There’s high school, then there’s high school in Palo Alto CA, one of the municipal anchors of Silicon Valley. Located adjacent to Stanford University, Palo Alto High School puts as much emphasis on its fine-arts programs as it does its technology-oriented ones. Unsurprisingly, the school’s 583-seat, $29-million performing arts center on its campus, which opened last September, is about as high-tech as you’d find on the theater rows of Broadway or London’s West End. Crestron 3-Series systems control video using Blackmagic Design content storage, projection using Digital Projection and Da-Lite systems, and audio utilizing Sennheiser, Meyer Sound and Yamaha platforms. Meyer’s Constellation active-acoustics system augments the room’s physical acoustic with additional early reflections and reverberation to help tailor the room to suit the performance.
“It provides teachers and students an opportunity to work with the latest and greatest technical equipment within a very modern performance-oriented infrastructure,” observed R. Dean Bunderson, Theatre Facilities Supervisor at the school, who added that it will fulfill the needs of rehearsals and performances of music, movies, drama, choir and dance, either within the framework of education or of outside renters.
The theater-systems design includes elements the school’s theater-major graduates will encounter in the upper echelons of that industry, including a full fly loft and a motorized orchestra pit, a parterre that provides access to second-floor side boxes, and an arched ante-proscenium and open coffered ceiling that mask three lighting catwalks and two utility walks from audience view. The backstage area includes green rooms, dressing rooms and a staging area for the construction and storage of large props and set pieces.
A black-box practice space doubles as a classroom, and the large lobby, flush with natural light and rich textures, accommodates dinners and special events. The building is sited on a large new plaza and features a terraced patio for small outdoor gatherings. The project incorporates additional campus-wide improvements, including new monument entry gates, site trellises and landscaping, and campus signage and lighting.