Festival of Arts Undergoes Historic Renovation
In 2017, the Festival of Arts celebrated its 85th anniversary in a newly renovated facility unveiled just in time for the Festival’s art exhibit opening the first week in July. The exhibit space, built in 1964, art center and concert stage area has undergone a major transformation that makes its grand debut this summer.
“We thought it was very important to position the Festival for another 85 years,” said Festival of Arts board president Fred Sattler. “And in our former facility that would not have been feasible with the aging infrastructure. So as a board, our challenge was to see to it that the Festival remained viable into the future, and we started with the facility.”
The multi-million renovation had to be finished in a short time frame, only 9 months from demolition to completion. “Because once you tear it down, you have to finish,” Sattler said. “There’s no way you can do it a piece at a time. We started October 1, 2016 and had to finish it by July 1, 2017.”
Overseen by Bauer Architects of Newport Beach, which also designed the $3.5 million award-winning facade, the project called for demolition of the entire old grounds, 31,774 square feet in all. Turner Construction Company leads the army of concrete workers, electricians, pipe layers and others indispensable to the construction.
There were challenges. The Laguna Beach City Council approved the project in July of 2015, but construction was delayed by a year in anticipation of El Niño conditions. However, the rain seemed to wait until the project actually began and then hit with a vengeance. That required creative adjustments to the project’s work schedule for Turner Construction Company.
“This is a site project with heavy underground and trenching,” commented Project Manager Michael Balch. ”With that said, we had the wettest Southern California winter in recent memory, making it very difficult to get out of the ground. To mitigate delays as best we could we invested in site prep work prior to the rain events. Covering soil, cleaning the site and storing materials and equipment, and daylighting trenches to promote proper drainage.”
Besides the rain, the design itself presented some difficulties. The layout features all curved edges. While that makes for great aesthetics, it also makes precision a very important element of the fabrication and construction. Balch emphasized, “We worked closely with all of our trade partners and vendors to make sure that everything was carefully coordinated prior to installation in the field.”
Despite the massive undertaking, most visitors this summer will not be so concerned about the infrastructure improvements. Rather, it will be experiencing the art show.
“To support the artists in our show to the level we feel they deserve, we really had to upgrade a lot of things,” remarked Sattler. “In addition, we’ve created spaces that the community can use to its advantage in the off-season in a way that the old facility couldn’t be used. It’s more of an outdoor event venue than it ever was before.”
BAUER Architects has created beautiful spaces to exhibit art as well as great areas for musical entertainment, art demonstrations and classes. Everything is modern, with a beautiful contemporary feel and still true to an outdoor art show. High above the reimagined grounds are the eye-catching tensile roof pavilions, custom made and engineered by FabriTec. The gift shop was revamped with a modern interior design, and the Junior Art Exhibit has a prominent location near the entrance. It also incorporates progressive sustainability features including storm water bio-retention, LED lighting, day lighting and natural ventilation and the use of rapidly renewable and recycled materials. New and inviting public spaces include wider pathways to meet ADA regulations. In order to accommodate the needs of our patrons, restrooms have been updated and expanded. Large native trees were planted to enhance the property’s picturesque scenery in the canyon.
“The community involvement and sense of pride from the Festival of Arts was something we felt every day on the project site,” said Balch. “A lot of what we do is commercial real estate, and we don’t often get to see the direct impact of our finished work. This project was very different and fun because we were building something that people connect to on a personal level.”
Scott Moore, an exhibiting artist at the Festival for 37 years and a Festival board member, is thrilled with the outcome.
“It’s apparent that we, the Festival of Arts and the Laguna Beach community, have a jewel in our hands,” Moore said. “For the 140 artists, we get to showcase our work in a space unlike any other that I’ve seen. I am sure that those who visit this summer will recognize how unique this venue is.”