Recognized by its breathtaking and futuristic architectural design, the Robert Frost Auditorium has long been considered an iconic landmark for Culver City and surrounding areas; it has even been featured in films such as "Gattaca" and "Sleeper." It was this design partnered with a modern upgrade that won this renovation project the title of “Award of Merit South” by ENR California for the K12 Education Category.
Although beloved by student performers, the Frost Auditorium had not kept pace with changes in technology and audience expectations. After an extensive analysis with school faculty and theater experts, a plan was proposed to fully utilize the potential of the historic building while honoring its architectural legacy.
Originally designed by Flewelling and Moody in 1964, the organic structure of the building was inspired by the distinctive shape of its land plot. The building’s curving walls gracefully flow into a waterfall of glass, welcoming natural light to flow into the mezzanine, greeting guests as they enter. The highlight of the structure is noted to be the unique roof, mimicking the shape of a leaf that has fallen atop a rock where rests peacefully.
Introducing modern integrations while maintaining the original structure’s design was no easy feat, but the capable partnership of Hodgetts + Fung Architecture and Balfour Beatty made the dream a reality. Matching the flare of the building’s exterior, the project architects ensured state-of-the-art technology and functionality would be enforced to the auditorium, bringing 1960s history to the 21st century. Upon entering the redesigned 1,200-seat theater, your eye is automatically drawn to it’s focal point – a custom arch stretching across the entirety of the new stage’s length, framing young thespians during performances.
In addition to visual upgrades, the renovation improvements included installation of a catwalk system to improve stage lighting and performance capabilities, replacement of the mechanical systems, fire sprinkler systems, relocation of the projection room, and new classrooms equipped for make-up, teaching, costuming, and prop storage. The original seats were refurbished, the ticketing lobby upgraded, and the brick drum’s interior reconfigured with a double-height black-box theater.
With the completion of the modernization, the Robert Frost Auditorium is now one of the largest theaters on the west side of Los Angeles.