Shawmut, UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance (CAP UCLA), and BAR Architects & Interiors celebrate the completion of a transformational renovation to convert the historic Crest Theatre into the new UCLA Nimoy Theater (The Nimoy). Named in honor of artist, actor, director, and philanthropist Leonard Nimoy, the renovated performance theater will bring memorable experiences to the active Westwood neighborhood and expand the cultural footprint of Los Angeles.
The project, made possible by a major gift from Leonard Nimoy’s widow and actor, writer and director Susan Bay Nimoy, rehabilitated the UCLAN Theatre, which opened in 1940 as a movie theater and performing arts venue, and its landmarked Art Deco inspired renovation from the 1980s, into a state-of-the-art, 299-seat, 10,500 square-foot venue. In partnership with CAP UCLA, the project team reconfigured both the front and back of house spaces to bring new energy to the facility and revive it as a live-performance venue.
“The UCLA Nimoy Theater is a testament to our commitment to building not just superior structures but vibrant, thriving communities," said Greg Skalaski, executive vice president of Shawmut’s West region. “This project goes beyond the preservation of an iconic venue; it builds on the vitality of the neighborhood. The reimagined Nimoy Theater, boasting its versatile, state-of-the-art performance space, will shine as a cultural cornerstone in Los Angeles, igniting inspiration for generations to come."
Working within the historic décor, an enlarged lobby, new bar, lounge, and support spaces are designed to enhance the theater going experience. The Nimoy includes 150 permanent seats on risers. A flexible seating area allows for capacity of up to 299 seats in more dynamic seating configurations, including cabaret tables or standing room spaces. The flexible seating can be expanded or contracted, depending on the stage needs of the performance. The stage is 35 feet wide with a flexible stage depth of 15 – 23 feet. An intimate upstairs lounge provides a secondary gathering space for pre- and post-performance gatherings and directly connects to the balcony.
The building restoration carefully preserved numerous features, among them the art deco inspired elements including the historic marquee, light fixtures, decorative columns, and wall mounted interior decorative pylons, designed by Disney Imagineer Joseph Musil during a significant remodel in 1987. The 230-foot-long auditorium mural, depicting a stylized 1930s Los Angeles cityscape, completed by scenic artist Bill Anderson as an integral part of the 1987 remodel, was also restored.
Superior acoustics and technical features will provide a state-of-the-art home for artists that includes a “line array” audio system with surround sound for even coverage and exceptional sound throughout the venue, streaming/broadcast systems, an LED-based performance lighting system, and flexible rigging infrastructure.
The Nimoy’s design promotes the health, comfort, and welfare of the performers and audience. The venue anticipates receiving LEED Certification in recognition of the remodel’s efficient energy use, healthy indoor air quality, and building reuse. Restrooms are gender inclusive to create a safe place for all staff and guests. New upgrades such as ramps, an elevator, and viewer accommodations bring equal access to the space for performers and audiences alike.
“The opening of the Nimoy marks an exciting new chapter for the arts in Los Angeles and further solidifies UCLA’s role in shaping the cultural fabric of our community,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “The inaugural CAP UCLA season at The Nimoy is inspired by the energy of our vibrant city and will help Angelenos forge connections through a shared artistic experience.”
“In both physical and metaphorical ways, The UCLA Nimoy Theater ties the history of the evolution of the performing and cinematic arts in Los Angeles to its future,” said Zach Prowda, AIA, LEED AP BD& C, Associate Principal/Director at BAR Architects & Interiors/Los Angeles. “To be part of renovating this complex jewel has been more than an architectural project for BAR Architects & Interiors, as it has also provided a unique opportunity to help shine a light on LA’s vibrant, resilient, and celebrated arts scene. We look forward to CAP’s lively season ahead.”
Located near the UCLA campus in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, The Nimoy will serve as an important addition to UCLA’s rich offerings of cultural venues and resources across the city, which include the Hammer Museum and the Fowler Museum. Just two hundred steps south of the Hammer Museum and near one of the busiest intersections in the nation, The Nimoy serves as a gateway to CAP UCLA's programs by bringing them directly to the communities where people live and work.
The Nimoy boosts revitalization of the Westwood neighborhood by reviving a dormant building into a community gathering place, restoring a valuable cultural asset, and improving the financial wellness and social vitality of the neighborhood.