October 18, 2021
AUX Architecture Designs a Building That’s a Beacon of Light
The concept of rhythm is integrated into the architecture and engineering, too. Structural columns located behind the facade and architectural columns were strategically placed to make “a pattern that creates a gradient. It was a really low-tech way to achieve what we were trying to do,” Wickersham explains. Kaufman’s philanthropy focuses on dance, so details reveal a dedication to the discipline; the main rehearsal room floor, for instance, is designed to be optimal for dancers, and the size and scale of the space mimics that of the primary stage above.
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Given the sloping lot, attendees enter the lobby from the side street located on the east side of the PAC. Students, dancers and other users approach from the entrance that faces Vista del Mar’s main campus drive at the lower level. The stark white exterior and most of the interior spaces are a neutral white to help act as a blank slate for physical and visual activations, and the wide main lobby doors encourage an indoor/outdoor flow for receptions and gatherings. Restored stained glass panels repurposed from the original synagogue help convey the story of the institution and site, while adding color and dimension. The dark theater interior and its warm textural elements make for both an ideal state-of-the-art and intimate venue—Silkin tested each chair to personally vouch for the fact that there’s not a bad seat in the house—with wooden acoustic components that reiterate the motif of the project’s visual, emotional and functional flows.
Silkin’s partnerships with local talent such as dancer and choreographer Mike Tyus, who has a large social media audience on his own and as part of Jacob Jonas the Company, have already yielded compelling commissions. Tyus collaborated with fellow dancer Joy Isabella Brown, using the building stairwell as a stage, and helping inaugurate the PAC in part by sharing performances via Instagram, since the pandemic has delayed a larger-scale official launch. The element of surprise revealed in these performances thrills Wickersham.
After a project is completed, “the best thing that can happen to you as an architect is when people go in and use it in a completely different way,” he says. “That’s so exciting.”
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