Chapman Breaks Ground on New Arts Center

ORANGE, Calif. — Chapman University is planning to build a new $64 million performance hall for its College of Performing Arts, which will be fully funded by private donations.

The project was spearheaded by a $25 million challenge grant from anonymous donors. Challenge grants are donations that have specific requirements, and in this case the grant required a dollar-for-dollar match by the university, meaning the school had to raise an additional $25 million to use the entire grant, a goal the school clearly exceeded. The donation represents the second largest lump sum ever received by the university and will result in a facility exceeding 75,000 square feet in size.

The university is planning a new structure that will have the capacity to comfortably seat 1,050 guests and will instantly become the second largest performance arts hall in Orange County. The project will kick off in early 2013, with a completion target for the fall of 2015. The worksite sits on a piece of ground previously occupied by an apartment complex, a commercial center, and office space. A groundbreaking ceremony for the project will take place on September 6, featuring renowned tenor Placido Domingo. Domingo is most well known as one of The Three Tenors and for holding the record of 140 roles in professional opera, a number his contemporaries consider practically untouchable.

Los Angeles-based Pfeiffer Partners Architects will serve as lead designers on the project. The design firm has previously completed highly acclaimed projects at the Disney Hyperion Theatre in Anaheim, Calif., the University of Notre Dame’s Performing Arts Center and the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, among others.

The institution hired Yasuhisa Toyota, company director for Tokyo’s Nagata Acoustics, as acoustician on the project. An acoustician works closely with the architect to make sure the visual beauty of a building’s design coincides with features that enhance the auditory quality of the space. In recent years, Toyota has been chief acoustician on major projects around the world, working on the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Japan, the Shenzhen Cultural Center in China and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, among other projects. Chapman’s new facility won’t be the only project Toyota has led in Orange County, as he worked on Soka University’s Performing Arts Center, which was completed in 2011.

Sebastian Paul Musco and his wife, Marybelle led the fundraising for the project and will be joined at the groundbreaking ceremony by the dean of Chapman’s Center for the Arts, Dale Merrill, who was recently promoted after serving in an interim capacity for two years.

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