California State University-Fullerton

Joseph A. W. Clayes Performing Arts Center

Fullerton, California

With a theater and dance program ranked among the top in the country and with facilities long outdated, CSUF was in dire need of new spaces that would be commensurate with the quality of their faculty and programs. Hired to design a new arts center to meet this need, our assignment came with a dual responsibility: to both design a building that would function exceptionally well internally, but externally contribute to the life of the campus at large. The result is a multi-venue center that serves as the terminus to an emerging arts precinct. In addition, a new plaza, designed as a gracious foreground to the building, creates the beginning of the University’s “Arts Walk,” connecting the Center to existing performing and visual arts buildings.

Project Data

109,000 sf

Program & Highlights

800-seat concert hall
250-seat thrust stage theater
150-seat black box theater
Dance studios


2009 USITT Theater Design Merit Award

2006 Chandler Awards for Design, Design Excellence Award

William Murray, “Three’s a charm,” Auditoria, April 2006

Chris Pasles, "The Center of Attention," Los Angeles Times, January 16, 2006

"Starting Off on a High Note," The Orange County Register, January 14, 2006

Timothy Mangan, "A Sound Start," The Orange County Register, January 14, 2006

Laura Bleiberg, “Dream Debut,” The Orange County Register, January 8, 2006

“Cal State arts center debuts,” The Orange County Register, December 5, 2005

“We were really very blessed with the architects. They didn’t superimpose their idea of what the complex should be. I’ve gone into a lot of places that felt cold or just don’t function well. This one not only has a nice functionality to it, I feel the space has an energy to itself, and it’s kind of catching.”
— Susan Hallman, Chairman, Department of Theater and Dance, California State University-Fullerton

All venues are accessed from the central lobby (1)

Structural Engineer: Nabih Youssef & Associates
Mechanical/Plumbing: AEV Associates, Inc.
Electrical: Kanwar & Associates
Civil Engineering: KPFF Consulting Engineers
Theater Consultant: Landry & Bogan
Acoustics: Rothemel & Associates
Mechanical Acoustical: McKay Conant Brook, Inc.
Lighting: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design, Inc.
Landscape: SWA Group
Photographer: Tim Griffith