Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services is now home to the Glorya Kaufman Performing Arts Center, a multi-use, 300-seat performing arts center that accommodates a variety of programming—including dance, music, teaching, and theatrical productions—and establishes a home for Vista’s therapeutic performing arts programs. The building was designed by AUX Architecture and built by Shawmut Design and Construction.

“Designed to express music and dance, our goal was to support Vista Del Mar programming while creating a transformative project for the campus as it evolves,” says Brian Wickersham, founding partner and design director at AUX Architecture. “We created a new gathering space, not just for Vista, but for the Los Angeles community, and by wrapping the existing building in translucent polycarbonate, we preserved the campus’ temple while also completely revitalizing it. Our hope is for the Glorya Kaufman Performing Arts Center to become the heart for both the campus and community by enhancing not only the students’ learning experiences but Vista’s visibility and relationship to this neighborhood.”

Utilizing a 100% recyclable polycarbonate material serves to both provide a high level of durability and sustainability while also harnessing natural light and insulating the building. It is one of the largest installations of this kind of polycarbonate on a cultural building in Southern California. In addition, the illuminated design draws neighbors to campus when hosting community events and showcases the nonprofit’s mission to empower regional youth and families.

“As a company, we build spaces that educate, entertain, and heal—and the new Glorya Kaufman Performing Arts Center accomplishes all of that,” said Greg Skalaski, executive vice president of Shawmut's West region. “The space not only provides students of all abilities with a wonderful resource and space for learning and flourishing, but continues to serve as a gathering place for the greater community.”

Directly behind the façade, a series of rhythmic columns create an interplay of light and shadow. One inspiration for the screens both inside and out was Martha Graham’s dance piece “Lamentation” that honors the sensations of compression and expansion that many kids with learning, autism, and behavioral challenges experience. The design conveys a supportive sensory environment for students who will now learn, meet, perform, be entertained and worship in this newly transformed building.

Every space was thoroughly considered by a team of designers and educators to ensure the interiors, now infused with light, expanded in size, and reconfigured, are both inspiring and comforting. Important design elements include a color palette of light tones, high acoustical performance, and flexible rooms to inspire creative learning models. New square footage for accessory spaces includes production support areas, and rehearsal, stage craft, dressing, and classroom spaces. The renovation adds 5,850 square feet for a total building area of 10,550 square feet.

"As our community contends with the pandemic, we're reminded of the enduring power of the arts to console, heal, create community and uplift lives,” states Craig Prizant, Vista Del Mar chief development and marketing officer. “In our brand-new performing arts center, Vista children and families will have every opportunity to make the journey from surviving to thriving as they participate in our cutting-edge therapeutic dance, music, theater, and other programs. We're so grateful to visionary philanthropist Glorya Kaufman for investing in our children's futures. AUX has innovated the perfect space in which Vista families and the greater community will find joy as they root and rise by opening their minds and hearts."

This project was made possible by a generous gift by Glorya Kaufman, whose contributions to the arts have benefited so many and will continue to do so for future generations.