The Anaheim Performing Arts Center (APAC)

SPF:architects as Architects

SPF:architects (SPF:a), an award-winning studio based in Culver City, has released new renderings of their design for the Anaheim Performing Arts Center (APAC), located in Anaheim, California. The images reveal the complete scheme of the $500 million, 500,000-square-foot cultural campus, which is anticipated to become a world-class destination for the performing arts.


APAC will replace Anaheim’s City National Grove, introducing an 11-acre program defined by three theatres—a 2,000-seat concert hall, a 1,700-seat opera hall, a 600-seat black box theatre—and a museum tower with observatory set upon 24-foot podium. The site will also incorporate an outdoor amphitheater, two restaurants, office space, a convention hall, and lecture rooms.


The design of APAC takes its cue from Anaheim’s unique history with agriculture. Unknown to most, the city was once covered in vineyards, later devastated by disease in the late 19th century. The obliteration of the wine industry led to an investment in citriculture, which spurred what’s been dubbed by historians as California’s “second gold rush.” 


“Anaheim’s socioeconomic driver quickly became the orange, so naturally our design for the center was influenced by it,” says SPF:a design principal, Zoltan E. Pali, FAIA. “We imagined that if we were to roll up the pavement of the parking lot we would find the old spirits of old citrus trees.”


The design team studied trees, their trunks, root structures, leaves, and even the skin of the oranges, all of which revealed circular elements. As such, the site’s program follows suit, organized as a grid to mirror the layout common to an orchard, with each major building adopting a circular shape deriving from an orange tree.


From each of the key buildings, concentric circles extend to the peripheries of the property, defined in paths, paving, and open spaces to create a new landscape.

“In our minds, the circular shape of the buildings emit rings that dance upon the site,” says Pali.


Each of the main structures is also designed to be clad in perforated copper-anodized aluminum, a material choice evocative of the skin of an orange.


Landscaping on the APAC campus includes a grand fountain, reflecting pool, underground parking, and green roof. Plantings have been chosen for their hardiness, xeric properties, and ability to provide shade, and are native to Los Angeles and its environs.


“Passing through the civic campus, exterior and interior spaces will morph together,” says SPF:a President & CEO, Judit M. Fekete-Pali, LEED AP, “The design strategy helps break down the architectural masses—no more soulless, vast, and uninviting interior public spaces. Each program element operates independently and together.”

When completed, APAC will be the most comprehensive performing arts center south of Los Angeles County.


Previously, SPF:a designed the acclaimed Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, California; the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures; and The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles. SPF:a also oversaw the renovation of the famed Pantages and Greek Theatres, and provided supporting material for the renowned Walt Disney Concert Hall.


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