California Theater, San Jose, CA

Architect: ELS Architecture and Urban Design, Berkeley, CA

This 1927 Spanish renaissance-style theater was renovated by the San Jose Redevelopment Agency and the Packard Humanities Foundation. Design emphasis was placed on preserving historical aspects of the theater's architecture. The project also included extensive reconstruction of the stage and the orchestra pit to improve acoustics. In the orchestra pit, a movable rear wall was incorporated, allowing the size of the orchestra platform to be adjusted. The pit was designed with variable acoustics: its rotating wall panels have sound-absorbing finishes on one side and sound-diffusing surfaces on the other.

Although symphony performances were not anticipated in the programming and design of the renovation, acoustical measurements conducted after construction revealed that the density and intensity of early reflections in the balcony are at concert hall levels. Symphony Silicon Valley adopted the theater as its home venue, and our firm provided recommendations for tuning their orchestra shell and platforms.

Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Historic Preservation Design Award, California Preservation Foundation, 2005

The American Institute of Architects Citation Award, East Bay Chapter, 2005