Chapman University

Musco Center for the Arts

Orange, California

Our design for the new Musco Center for the Arts provides the University and the community with a world-class, highly flexible 1,050 seat multipurpose performance venue. Working with the acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, perhaps best known for his work at Disney Concert Hall, we were able to design an auditorium that can be readily and seamlessly transformed from a proscenium theater to an acoustically superb concert hall. This high level of flexibility allows the hall to meet the needs of the University’s theater, music and dance departments, as well as touring groups. Restricted by the City’s height restrictions, the fly tower and auditorium are located one level below the existing grade, which was achieved by creating a large, sloping garden that lowers the site while also providing a gracious forecourt to the building’s entry. A two-story lobby provides access to the balcony level and is open to below, accentuating the height of the space. The lobby, with its visual and physical connection to the garden, encourages a wide range of public offerings, serving as one of the University’s favorite special event spaces at non-performance times.

Project Data

86,000 sf

Program & Highlights

1,050-seat multipurpose hall
Recording studio
Large practice room
Multi-level lobby
Dressing rooms and green room

“The City of Orange now houses an ideal opera house, potentially the best in the West, and maybe even something more . . .”
Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times


Structural Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers
MEP: Syska Hennessy Group
General Contractor: McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.
Theater: Theatre Projects
Acoustics: Nagata Acoustics, Inc.
Lighting: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design
Audio/Visual: Sonitus Consulting
Landscape Architect: Bennitt Design Group
Photographer: Ema Peter


Featured in Concert Halls by Nagata Acoustics: Thirty Years of Acoustical Design for Music Venues and Vineyard-Style Auditoria, Yasuhisa Toyota, Motoo Komoda, Daniel Beckmann, Marc Quiquerez, Erik Bergal, ASA Press, 2021

2018 Architizer A+ Jury Award - Cultural/Hall-Theater

2017 United States Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT) Merit Award

2017 Old Towne Preservation Association (OTPA) Good Neighbor Award

2016 AIAOC Citation Award

Mel Lambert, "A Hall of Many Parts," Lighting & Sound America, October 2016

Jim Doti, "Musco Center opening illustrates that music is eternal," Orange County Register, March 21, 2016

Timothy Mangan, "Chapman's Musco Center opens with operatic celebration," Orange County Register, March 20, 2016

Mark Swed, "A Sound Decision," Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2016

David Ng, "Meet the philanthropic couple behind the Musco Center for the Arts," Los Angeles Times, March 19, 2016