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Scripps College Performing Arts Center

Scripps College Performing Arts Center

Claremont, CA

Scripps College asked Bora to breathe new life into the mid-century Garrison Theater, originally a movie theater, expanding it to create a performing arts center and home for the music department. Our award-winning design respects the iconic character of the original building while improving performance to meet modern needs.

The faculty of the college challenged us to extend the Scripps campus language of spatial intimacy and interior/exterior conversation into this site. The problem? The massive Garrison Theater was completely the opposite of everything cherished on the campus – monumental, imposing, opaque and internalized.

In response, we carefully analyzed the historic campus’ pattern of courtyards and transposed it here. By placing a new series of smaller scale pavilions flanking the existing building and forming a new courtyard, we created an atmosphere akin to the wonderful spaces of the main campus. The pavilions establish a humanized scale, and contain faculty studios, a music library and a new 110-seat recital hall, each of which feature extensive glazing to connect the interiors to the exterior gardens.

We transformed Garrison Theater into a contemporary and invigorated 690-seat venue for music, convocation and lectures. We opened up the ceiling to achieve the acoustical environment supportive of orchestral and choral works. The forestage was extended, a portable acoustical shell was installed, and new diffusive wall panels were arrayed to accommodate live music. Existing back stage areas were renovated for practice rooms, faculty offices and support functions.

The architectural design of the center creates a seamless whole, the modern design sensitively defers to the mid-century language of the existing building, and the finished space is absolutely redolent of the beloved historic campus.




Merit Award, AIA Portland
Merit Award, IIDA Oregon Chapter
Excellence in Design Award, City of Claremont
Architectural Commission


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