Glorya Kaufman Performing Arts Center


The Glorya Kaufman Performing Arts Center is a remodel of and addition to a 1950s-era Temple located at the center of Vista Del Mar’s campus and was conceived and designed to be the home of Vista Del Mar’s innovative therapeutic performing arts program. The Center provides space for both learning and performing dance, music, and theatrical productions. Accessory spaces allow for production coordination, stage craft, dressing and changing, rehearsal, and classrooms.

Project Category

Entertainment, Institutional


Completed May 2021


Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services


10,550 sq. ft.
300-seat theatre

The building is designed as a series of vignettes that express motion, music, and movement. A semi-translucent façade wraps the structure and, in the evening when the lights turn on, the building transforms into a glowing heart at the center of the campus. Besides adding a distinctive aesthetic, the highly durable polycarbonate façade is made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic and can be recycled again at the end of its lifecycle. A key challenge was to preserve as much of the existing structure as possible. The Temple’s foundation and structural diaphragm were saved and became the framework of the new building.

Directly behind the façade, a series of rhythmic columns create an interplay of light and shadow. The resulting gradient pattern works in conjunction with the primary stair and lobby, both of which vary in width (in plan) to create a sense of compression and expansion. This concept drew inspiration from “Lamentation,” the Martha Graham dance piece in which a dancer struggles within a garment, and as a metaphor for the struggles many people with Autism experience every day.

The building has comfortable spaces for flexible learning, a color palette in light tones, and acoustic systems that aid those with sound sensitivity. Individual rooms are designed to accommodate multiple purposes and may be a classroom by morning, rehearsal space by day, and green room by night.

The 10,550 sf Center was built with a conservative budget but carefully selected materials, often in standard off-the-shelf finishes, allow for several key design features including wood beams with acoustic fuzz in the theater, a wood sprung stage with different surface options for different types of performances, and gleaming white terrazzo in the box office lobby, stair, and entry lobby.


AUX Team: Brian Wickersham, Sabina Lira, Matthew Aulicino, Sean McCusker, Taylor Nunes-Agins, Titus Dimson, Ksenia Chumakova, Burcin Nalinci, Manori Sumanasinghe, Aman Sheth, Louie Bofill, Graham Jordan, Ashley Hsu, Marija Volkman, Uriel Lopez, Elizabeth Pritchett

Consultant Team: Gardiner & Theobald, Nous Engineering, South Coast Engineering, VCA Engineers, Inc., Idibiri, KGM Architectural Lighting,  Newsom Gonzalez, SQLA, Shawmut Design and Construction.

Photos: Nic Lehoux


2020 AIA San Fernando Valley Design Award – Citation
2020 AIA San Fernando Valley People’s Choice Award
2021 AIA LA Design Award – Citation
2021 Southern California Development Forum Design & Philanthropy Awards
2022 Los Angeles Business Journal Commercial Real Estate Awards, Silver Award, Community Impact Category
2022 Westside Urban Forum, Institutional Category, Merit Award
2022 Fast Company Innovation by Design Awards, Honorable Mention
2022 AIA California Design Award, Institutional/Education Category, Merit Award
2022 Los Angeles Business Council Award, Renovated Category
2022 Interior Design Best of Year Award, Finalist, Entertainment Category
2022 Chicago Athenaeum Design Award