Santa Monica Civic Auditorium
|Santa Monica Civic Auditorium|
Santa Monica Civic Auditorium
|Architect||Welton Becket & Associates|
|Designated||9 April 2002|
Santa Monica Civic Auditorium is a multipurpose convention center venue at 1855 Main Street in Santa Monica, California owned by the City of Santa Monica. It was built in 1958 and designed by Welton Becket.
The building was made of reinforced concrete and combined elements of a theater, concert hall, and trade show and convention auditorium. Parabolic pylons supported the exterior grand cantilevered canopy fronting a glass curtain wall and brise soleil, a patterned wall that reduced the effects of the sun's glare.
For trade shows, the Civic Auditorium features 11,775 sq ft (1,093.9 m2), while the stage adds 4,485 sq ft (416.7 m2) more space, for a total of 16,260 sq ft (1,511 m2). The East Wing meeting room adds an additional 4,200 sq ft (390 m2), while the main lobby features 6,708 sq ft (623.2 m2).
The main hall of the Civic is adaptable for not only trade shows, but also sporting events, concerts, meetings, awards shows and other events. As a concert venue it can seat 3,000, as a banquet hall 720 in tables, and as a sports arena it can seat up to 2,500. The most widely touted innovation was the auditorium's main floor, which in a matter of seconds could be tilted by a hydraulic mechanism to form raked seating for theatrical productions or a flat surface for dancing or exhibits. The main floor of the auditorium can thus be raised or lowered to create a raked floor for theatre seating or a level floor for exhibits.
The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium opened in the summer of 1958. At that time, it was the second-largest auditorium in the Los Angeles area.
The $2.9-million city-owned project soon became an acclaimed music venue, for artists as varied as Eric Clapton, Frank Sinatra, Village People, Dave Brubeck, Laura Nyro, Ella Fitzgerald, Prince and Bob Dylan. In 1964, the auditorium was host to the T.A.M.I. Show, a filmed concert. A home of the Academy Awards from 1961-1967, the auditorium remains home to the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra.
On April 9, 1982, "Weird Al" Yankovic made his first major appearance at the auditorium, when his band opened for Missing Persons. It was not a happy experience; "I got pelted for 45 minutes," he later said, "(with) anything that wasn't nailed down."
In 1986, the Santa Monica City Council discussed a preliminary report containing four plans calling for various combinations of office buildings, a hotel, a museum, a conference center, a playhouse, parking garages and open space and, in two of the plans, demolition of the auditorium. By the 2000s, the Civic Auditorium was operating at an annual deficit of as much as $2 million, which the city has had to cover. The City of Santa Monica began to plan for a $51.9-million renovation using redevelopment funds and negotiated with the Nederlander Organization to book events. That effort was suspended after Governor Jerry Brown dissolved community redevelopment agencies. Per the Santa Monica Mirror newspaper, the auditorium is expected to close in July 2013 for at least five years. It needs at least $23 million in seismic and accessibly upgrades. A complete renovation would exceed $50 million. From an economic perspective, it would be cheaper to replace it, but many consider it a Landmark worth preserving. The City of Santa Monica has an annual budget of more than half of a billion dollars and is considering its priorities.
- "City of Santa Monica Designated Landmarks". City of Santa Monica. Retrieved 2013-02-27.
- Reynolds, Christopher (March 6, 2003). "L.A.'s invisible builder; Long overlooked, Welton Becket is getting his due". Los Angeles Times. p. E.36.
- Martha Groves (June 29, 2013), Santa Monica Civic Auditorium to close after 55 years as cultural mecca Los Angeles Times.
- Jay Goldman (July 10, 1986), 4,500-Seat Civic Could Be Razed or Renovated: Santa Monica Studies 4 Auditorium Plans Los Angeles Times.
- Shuster, Fred (November 4, 2001). "Coming Home; A New Venue For The Oscars, Glittering Kodak Theatre Is The Crown Jewel In Hollywood's Rebirth". The Daily News (Los Angeles). p. L11.