San Diego State University | Main Stage, Second Stage, and Amenities Pavilion

Raising the Profile of Arts on Campus

A collection of new and renovated performing arts facilities on the campus of San Diego State University offers a flexible platform for instruction and experimentation while serving to raise the profile of the performing arts on campus and beyond.

The first of three components, the renovation of the 450-seat Main Stage, introduces a luminous contemporary interior within the shell of the 1960’s modernist building. Hailed as one of the outstanding university theaters in the nation at the time, the Dramatic Arts Building and Don Powell Theater had not seen a significant upgrade since they were built in 1967. Limited space, outmoded technology, and accessibility issues necessitated not only significant renovation of the existing 491-seat Main Stage but a reconsideration of types of facilities needed to support the ambitions of the theatre, music, and dance programs. Within the Don Powell Theater, improved sightlines, universal access, recalibrated seating, and reshaped acoustics provide an encouraging venue for student performers and an equitable experience for both performers and audience. New mechanical, electrical, and media systems are complemented by a reconfigured control room, lighting positions, and live mixing support. Robust acoustic finishes recast the hall as a warm inviting space, transforming it into a signature performing arts venue. Updated lighting and integrated projection recast the modernist facade as a beacon for the arts. An expanded lobby spills onto a plaza, offering a blended space for exhibition, informal socializing, and event hosting. Bright and dynamic, the rediscovered lobby sets the stage for the dramatic performance within.

The Second Stage Theater is conceived foremost as a flexible armature for student performance and instruction. The new 150-seat will foster exploration of contemporary and historical, as well as western and non-western, theatrical forms. Its design and technical outfitting offer a neutral reconfigurable platform that maximizes the opportunity for diverse expression to be realized. The performance area features a dynamic indoor-outdoor connection to an outdoor stage that is surrounded by gently sloping landscapes for viewing. At a campus scale, the building and landscape design stitch together a network of pedestrian loggias and paths offering a diverse array of amenities for the daily life of the students.

Located directly off the Arts Mall that connects the Main and Second Stages, a new Amenities Pavilion consolidates ticketing and concessions serving all the venues in the newly revitalized Performing Arts District.


San Diego, CA

Building Type

Performing Arts


25,000 SF

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