Expansion at West L.A. School Adds New Arts Center

By Eric Althoff

LOS ANGELES—Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services, a multipurpose school and community service organization in Culver City that helps underserved children in the western Los Angeles area, has added a new performing arts center to its campus.

The Glorya Kaufman Performing Arts Center is a 300-seat theater named for donor Glorya Kaufman, a local fan of dance and philanthropist who provided funding for the project. The facility will be utilized to host dance performances, musical events, plays as well as various other events for the school and surrounding community. Furthermore, the arts center will now be home to the school’s therapeutic performing arts programs.

AUX Architecture’s design aesthetic features a recyclable, polycarbonate material that is meant to harness as much natural light as possible, both for illumination as well as for insulating the building itself. On the interior, a pattern of light and shadow is produced thanks to the interaction of a series of rhythmic columns. This lighting design is meant to be less upsetting to students with autism, who can be especially sensitive to overly stimulating visuals.

Additional interior features of the performing arts complex include production support areas, rehearsal space, dressing rooms and classrooms.

The Glorya Kaufman Performing Arts Center, designed by AUX Architecture, was constructed by general contractor Shawmut Design and Construction, both of which are native to Southern California.

“Designed to express music and dance, our goal was to support Vista Del Mar programming while creating a transformative project for the campus as it evolves,” Brian Wickersham, founding partner and design director at AUX Architecture, said in a recent statement. “We created a new gathering space, not just for Vista, but for the Los Angeles community, and by wrapping the existing building in translucent polycarbonate, we preserved the campus’s temple while also completely revitalizing it.

“Our hope is for the Glorya Kaufman Performing Arts Center to become the heart for both the campus and community by enhancing not only the students’ learning experiences but Vista’s visibility and relationship to this neighborhood.”

Added Greg Skalaski, executive vice president for the western region for Shawmut Design and Construction: “As a company, we build spaces that educate, entertain, and heal—and the new Glorya Kaufman Performing Arts Center accomplishes all of that. The space not only provides students of all abilities with a wonderful resource and space for learning and flourishing, but continues to serve as a gathering place for the greater community.”

Craig Prizant, Vista Del Mar’s chief development and marketing officer, said that the arts have never been more important than when the country continues to work its way out from under the covid-19 pandemic.

“In our brand-new performing arts center, Vista children and families will have every opportunity to make the journey from surviving to thriving as they participate in our cutting-edge therapeutic dance, music, theater and other programs,” he said. “We’re so grateful to visionary philanthropist Glorya Kaufman for investing in our children’s futures.”