A New Tune for Cal State Fullerton
Located 30 miles outside of Los Angeles, Cal State Fullerton has much to show for its 40-year history. Founded in 1957, the University has produced close to 150,000 graduates, with an average annual enrollment of 30,000 students, 1,300 of which are international students from over 80 countries. The University holds the second largest enrollment in the United States, offering 55 undergraduate programs and 47 graduate programs. Cal State Fullerton ranks among the top 10 of the nation's "Top Public Western Master Universities".

The suburban city of Fullerton, with a population of nearly 125,000 residents, has been undergoing rapid growth in the last few years. Cal State University itself has seen the addition of several new buildings, the most recent, and still in the works, is the anxiously awaited Performing Arts Center. The Department of Music, Theater and Dance offers degree programs specifically designed to prepare students for futures in live performance, education or further graduate study. With both programs and enrollment growing, the University has taken on the task of building a new and innovative performing arts center. In planning for nearly 20 years, the construction of the center, which began in October of 2003, will result in the largest musical theater program in the West.

Designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, a leading planning, architectural, and interior design firm, the 43 million dollar project is scheduled for completion in the Fall of 2005. The opening celebration will be taking place in mid January of 2006. The 103,000 square foot, two-story facility will greatly enhance the Music, Theater and Dance Department's educational mission. The center will feature an 800-seat concert hall, 250-seat thrust stage theater, 100-seat studio theater, three dance studios, a scene shop, design lab, warm-up, dressing and storage rooms, costume and make-up labs, and a musical theater rehearsal studio. The technical aspects of creating a musical performance hall such as this one, takes a team of finely tuned professionals. The contractor, Hensel Phelps Construction Co., well known for their work on the Colorado Convention Center and Elitch Gardens Amusement Park in Colorado, was faced with a wide range of unique needs and obstacles. From acoustical properties, shapes and materials, to specially designed sound doors, the facility presented many challenges that had to be overcome for construction to move along smoothly. Each of the 3 main theaters consists of an acoustically tuned geometrical shape with acoustical materials and curtains for sound tuning. The other rooms throughout the building consist of isolated slabs, walls, and ceilings for acoustical performance. There are double floors between the first and second levels to prevent the movement of noise. Mckay Conant Brook, Inc., who provided consulting in all areas of building acoustics and audiovisual systems, were also presented with many sound and vibration dilemmas. The building, rather compact in architecture, has many mechanical rooms that are adjacent to, above, and below noise sensitive areas. Sound rated doors were needed to prevent equipment noise from entering performance spaces.

Krieger Specialty Products, regarded as one of the most accomplished custom acoustical door manufacturers in the country, took on the project in December of 2003. As the real measure of a sound rated manufacturer is their ability to assist the contractor with eliminating sound isolation deficiencies, Krieger played a key role in the construction of the facility. Krieger supplied 12 standard size, STC 50 doors from the hall to the back stage areas, along with two oversized, STC 53 doors from the scene shop to the backstage area. The oversized doors, measuring approximately 10 x 12 feet, serve as the gateway for moving large scenery and musical equipment in and out of the theaters.

The real challenge of the project came in the form of six hollow metal doors that had to blend into the façade of the convex walls in the back of the concert hall stage. These doors required a custom-made bracket and hinge arrangement so that each leaf would meet correctly in the center. It takes talent and creativity to engineer the hinging brackets and bracing for a door that does not swing within the same plain as the wall. Krieger's experienced field service employees worked with expert engineers and the construction crew to understand the complexity and tolerances allowed in the design. Because each acoustical door leaf weighs approximately 1,100 pounds, the door frames needed to support 2,200 pounds and work with the connected wall support. To assure the correct motion of the swinging doors, Krieger utilized a CAD system to model the proposed hinging. The brilliance behind the design can be solely accredited to Krieger's longevity and expertise in the industry of custom door manufacturing. The doors have been set in place and will be finished with a plaster façade to blend in with the existing exterior walls.

As the University prepares to take possession of the building, final details and inspection will be taking place over the next several months. "I encourage people to come out and see this facility", comments Jerry Samuelson, Dean of Cal State Fullerton, "Everyone I've taken through is absolutely amazed. This is a really beautiful performance center." The center will feature a wide range of performances including musical theater, orchestral music, jazz and drama performance. This will be a great venue to serve the area, not only for student performances but professional performances as well. Because the center is a "true concert hall" and not just a school auditorium, it will provide a wonderful experience for students to perform in.

Cal State Fullerton and the surrounding community anxiously await the completion of this exciting project. Currently, the Performing Arts Center campaign is raising $5 million towards the completion of the project. When the center finally opens in January, it will represent a grand accomplishment for a grand University.
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