Colburn School for the Performing Arts & Music Conservatory

Los Angeles, California

Richard Colburn, namesake of the Colburn School, facilitated the relocation of the School’s music and dance facilities from warehouse-like facilities on the USC campus, to downtown Los Angeles, and in so doing, created a vibrant, new, community-based School of the Performing Arts. At the time, downtown’s Grand Avenue was only just emerging as a cultural destination, with the Colburn School soon becoming one of its major anchors. The building’s design, therefore, had to both address the contextual conditions of the day yet anticipate a burgeoning future. After several years of operations, the School returned to us to design facilities that would allow it to expand to become a College Conservatory, providing student housing, a new 250-seat recital hall, music library, educational spaces and a variety of practice and rehearsal rooms. The two buildings are linked by an active courtyard and dining commons, creating a campus-like environment for both students and audience members.

Project Data

100,000 sf

Program Highlights

420-seat concert hall
200-seat performance lab
2 recital halls
Housing for 140 students
Rehearsal halls and dance studios
Practice rooms and teaching studios
Media technology studios
Music library


2008 Downtown Breakfast Club Rose & Lemon Awards, Special Recognition Award

2008 Downtown News, Downtowners of Distinction Award

2000 United States Institute for Theatre Technology, Architecture Honor Award

Jean T. Barrett, “Sounds of Success,” US Airways, June 2013

Rich Schultz, “A musical vision fulfilled,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2013

Richard Guzmán, “Fresh and Distinct,” Los Angeles Downtown News, March 3, 2008

Kathleen Nye Flynn, “Hitting the High Note with $120 Million Expansion, Colburn School Raises Its Profile, Los Angeles Downtown News, February 26, 2007


Structural Engineer: A. Martin & Associates, Inc.
MEP: Syska & Hennessy
Civil Engineering: KPFF Consulting Engineers
Theater: Auerbach Pollock Friedlander
Phase 1: McKay Conant Hoover, Inc.
Phase 2: Charles M. Salter Associates Inc
Lighting: Horton Lees Brogden Design
AV: Sound Image
Landscape:Rios Clementi Hale Studios
Photographers: Foaad Farah, Tim Griffith, Eric Staudenmaier

” . . . the Colburn School invigorates the Grand Avenue corridor. It is ambitious without showing off and is to be commended for its nod to current and future neighbors. . . . The concert hall itself, with unusual and effective lighting and excellent acoustics, is warm and elegant without making gestures that might overwhelm the young musicians who will be performing there . . .”
— Steven D. Lavine, President, California Institute of the Arts

Practice room
Conservatory entrance and plaza