2007-11-15 / Schools

Architect chosen for performing arts centers

By Stephanie Bertholdo bertholdo@theacorn.com

The proposed Performing Arts Education Centers for two high schools in Las Virgenes Unified School District are one step closer to a reality now that an architect has been selected by the Citizen's Construction Oversight Advisory Committee.

At the Oct. 23 school board meeting, Jerry Orland, chair of the committee, announced the architectural firm of John Sergio Fisher & Associates, based in Los Angeles and San Francisco, was chosen to design the Performing Arts Education Centers at Calabasas and Agoura high schools. The firm was among a pool of 15 vying for the job, Orland said.

Donald Zimring, superintendent of the Las Virgenes Unified School District, said the centers will be the first projects to be funded from Measure G, the $128million bond measure approved by voters in 2006.

Orland said members of the committee interviewed four of the 15 firms, but a visit to Fisher & Associates in Tarzana to determine whether the company had enough staff members to tackle the job clinched the deal.

"It was a unanimous decision," Orland said. Besides staffing, committee members were impressed with the firm's specialty in theater design. Orland said the firm has designed performing arts centers throughout the world.

Board President Terilyn Finders reiterated the need for the centers to be designed to meet greater educational goals beyond theater arts. She said the facilities will be available for school lectures, "virtual learning" and events for the community at large.

Finders said the board deliberated extensively to include the word "education" in the description of the centers.

Orland said the committee visited centers in Los Angeles, San Diego, Irvine and Newbury Park that were used beyond school performances. He said that, while the facilities had to be built as "professional performing arts centers," they would be suitable for other education goals and designed to accommodate all types of presentations and programs.

Board member Cindy Iser said she was excited the district was moving forward with the design phase.

The design and construction budget for the two centers is $25 million, said Zimring.

"It's a major undertaking," said board member Dave Moorman. "John Sergio Fisher stood out because I think he connects with the art of what this is all about," he said.

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