Recently unveiled plans for the new Anaheim Performing Arts Center envision an 11-acre complex with a series of cylindrical buildings whose shapes were inspired by the city’s former orange groves. Designed by local firm, SPF Architects, the sprawling APAC campus will have a 2,000-seat concert hall, a 1,700-seat opera hall, and a 600-seat black box theater, all covered in a brilliant perforated copper cladding reminiscent of orange peels.
The new complex will replace the existing Anaheim’s City National Grove venue in order to bring a contemporary, world-class arts complex to the city. Along with the concert and opera halls, the sprawling complex will also have a soaring museum tower with a 24-foot observatory, an outdoor amphitheater, two restaurants, office space, a convention hall and lecture auditoriums. The outdoor area will include various open spaces that include fountains, a large reflecting pool and various walking paths that lead between the buildings. The landscaping scheme will use native plants chosen for their resiliency and ability to provide shade.
Each of the main buildings on site will be clad in a perforated copper-anodized aluminum. The particular cladding style was chosen not only for its environmental properties, allowing for light and air circulation in the interiors but also as a nod to the city’s agricultural history. Anaheim city was once covered in vineyards, with the local economy based almost entirely on wine production until the vineyards were wiped out by disease in the late 19th century. Later, an investment in citriculture revived the city’s agricultural strength, spurring what is commonly referred to 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.”
To create the circular buildings, the architects studied the design of orange trees, from the trunks to the leaves and even the skin of the oranges. The tiny circular elements found in orange skin inspired the design team to mirror not only the circular shape of the trees but also the porous nature of the fruit’s skin. Even the layout of the complex was designed in a grid system, similar to the common orchard.