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Bonita Center for the Arts, San Dimas, United States

Wednesday 10 Feb 2016

A first class performance

Bonita Center for the Arts by Rachlin Partners in San Dimas, United States
Rachlin Partners 
Bonita Center for the Arts by Rachlin Partners in San Dimas, United States Bonita Center for the Arts by Rachlin Partners in San Dimas, United States Bonita Center for the Arts by Rachlin Partners in San Dimas, United States Bonita Center for the Arts by Rachlin Partners in San Dimas, United States Bonita Center for the Arts by Rachlin Partners in San Dimas, United States Bonita Center for the Arts by Rachlin Partners in San Dimas, United States
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Rachlin Partners have created an environmentally friendly performing arts centre that meets the needs of a Californian community 

The Bonita Center for the Arts – designed as a community landmark that educates as well as ties the local School District with the community – is located at 800 W. Covina Blvd, San Dimas, CA, USA.  Designed by Rachlin Partners, the structure includes computer-operated sun louvers, a red circular stairwell serving as a signature design element, and an acoustic quality on a par with world-renowned performing arts venues.

By providing the K-12 students, as well as the cities of San Dimas and La Verne, with a high-quality, publicly funded, environmentally sustainable performing arts centre, community leaders acknowledge that students are the most important resource of the community.  

First envisioned on the community’s ‘wish list’ some 25 years ago, the 29,250 sq ft Centre began to take shape only recently through community workshops and meetings between school arts administrators and the prestigious design team.  Built with Measure AB funds approved by local taxpayers, the Centre’s 700-seat main indoor theatre, as well as its outdoor performance area, will host drama, dance, lecture, and band and choir performances from San Dimas schools, La Verne schools, and visiting theatre companies. 

Some of the challenges during the creation of the Bonita Center for the Arts included shading a glass façade, allowing limited lobby space to comfortably accommodate hundreds of patrons, and making both a visual and sustainable connection to San Dimas’ surrounding neighbourhood. Rachlin Partners’ architects met these challenges by shading the glass façade with innovative computerised louvers that track the angle of the sun.  These solar shading fins open and close automatically to let in more or less light. In addition, an outdoor solar shade overhang helps expand the lobby space. Drought-tolerant plants were then selected to fashion a beautiful showcase for the richness of possibilities available in designing a low-water-usage landscape. Tying everything together, the playful juxtaposition of materials, including stucco, concrete, metal panels and landscaping, creates a dynamic façade as well as a landmark entertainment destination for the San Gabriel Valley community. 

Commenting on Rachlin Partners approach to Performing Arts architecture Michael Rachlin, AIA, Founding Partner of Rachlin Partners and 2015 CCAIA / CASH Award Recipient, said: "As a firm, we believe in socially responsible civic architecture. Performing arts centres are often seen as the most significant cultural landmarks in a city, and can rapidly transform the cultural and economic fabric of the surrounding region. It is our hope that our work with performing arts centers not only offers artistic as well as architectural inspiration, but showcases the latest applications of design, technology and materials." 

The Bonita Center for the Arts is not only safe and ecologically sound for students, but it also provides an educational experience by displaying placards that explain its state-of-the-art sustainable features to all who visit.  

  • Lobby windows made of low-E glass (blocks 67% of solar heat while allowing light to pass through)
  • Exterior computer-automated louvers deflect sunlight to keep interior spaces cool to minimize the demand for air conditioning
  • ow-volume toilets help save an average of 20% total water, or a savings of 51,840 gallons per year – and pint-flush urinals save even more: 70,875 gallons of water per year
  • Bathroom faucets contain automatic shut-off valves
  • Plants for this building were chosen for their low water consumption, drought tolerance, and low maintenance needs
  • Wherever possible, drip irrigation is used as a highly efficient method of delivering water to support plant growth
  • Building materials used emit very low amounts of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which can have a negative effect on indoor air quality
  • Conditioned air delivered from below the floor, through the pedestal bases of the auditorium seats

In addition to Rachlin Partners, the design team behind the Bonita Center for the Arts consisted of general contractor Tilden-Coil Constructors, landscape architect L.A. Design Associates, theatre and audio-visual consultant Auerbach Pollock Friedlander, and LEED consultant Verde Concepts. 

The WAN Performing Spaces Award 2016 is open to enter until 29 February.

Nick Myall

News Editor

Key Facts

Value 19.55(m€)
Rachlin Partners
Reinventing Cities

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