The first performing arts centre to be built in Beverly Hills, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts has opened, with audiovisual design and installation from Electrosonic for its public spaces and theatres.
Known simply as the Wallis, the centre, designed by SPF:architects, houses two performance spaces: the showpiece blackbox-style Lovelace Studio Theater, which has been re-imagined in the historic 1933 Italianate Beverly Hills Post Office; and the main stage Bram Goldsmith Theater (pictured), which makes its home in a brand new building. An education wing marks the centre’s commitment to bringing theatre to young people.
Electrosonic’s Design Consulting team first came on board with the project in 2008 and provided design services for both theatres and their supporting dressing rooms, green room, workshops and control rooms.
The 500-seat Bram Goldsmith Theater will be used for theatre, dance and music. It has a traditional proscenium stage and full fly system, and features a top-of-the-line L-Acoustics ARCS Wide/Focus line source array. Electrosonic design consultant Steve Coe initially specified another audio system from L-Acoustics, but as construction progressed, the manufacturer introduced the new ARCS system, which proved to be even better suited to the space.
“The client didn’t want to see any speakers in the theatre; the speakers needed to be hidden in recesses and architecturally integrated with the space,” Coe explained. “So when L-Acoustics unveiled its ARCS Wide/Focus system, we thought its smaller size would work to our benefit from an integration point of view. It’s very unobtrusive and has a subtle warmth that’s ideal for a theatrical environment.”
The main cluster of speakers is a four box Wide/Focus array that flies out on a motorised winch, which disappears completely above the ceiling reflector when not being used. An orchestra shell can be put in place for orchestral performances. Two 12XT speakers flank the proscenium; fourteen 8XTi speakers are recessed into the side walls for surround sound and fill. Four 5XT speakers provide surround sound for the upper balcony and the system low end is reinforced by four SB18i subwoofers.
“The ARCS system is probably the best we could have installed,” says Electrosonic project manager Dan Laspa. “This new speaker line is small and perfect for the space. The performers who appeared at the opening gala commented on how good the system sounded.”
A Yamaha PM5D portable digital mixing desk serves both theatres. It was chosen for its popularity among theatrical professionals who will be immediately familiar with its use.
Electrosonic also furnished Clear-Com wired and wireless intercom systems and a QSC Q-Sys DSP system for the entire centre with ceiling-mounted speakers in the lobby, back of house, dressing rooms, all tech rooms and shops.
The Lovelace Studio Theater is a multi-purpose, flexible performance space with a flat floor and retractable seating for 150. It will host public performances and children’s programming, and serve as the heart of the theatre school for young people.
“Since the Lovelace is a completely flexible space, there is little permanent equipment installed there,” says Coe. A control booth has a small Yamaha LS9-16 digital console and AV connector panels are found in the lighting grid and on the side walls; QSC speakers and subwoofers can hang on the grid or stand on the floor.
Electrosonic also designed audio and video signal distribution for the two theatres, including a custom 96-way Whirlwind microphone channel splitter, with Jensen transformers, to permit the greatest flexibility in configuring productions. Digital audio and video tie lines connect the Bram Goldsmith Theater and Lovelace Studio Theater. The company will supply monitors, speakers and source racks for the Center’s education wing and rehearsal spaces, which are still under construction.