Located on a prominent site in the central core of Mesa, Arizona, the Mesa Arts Center is the signature project for this growing city, the 40th largest city in the United States and the largest suburban city in the country.
The Mesa Arts Center provides an expansive performing arts program; creates a dynamic public space to host civic events; provides a catalyst for the redevelopment of the city's blighted downtown; and raises the city's identity among neighboring municipalities in the broader Phoenix region. Formerly a bedroom community, Mesa is now the cultural crossroads of Phoenix's East Valley.
A grand public landscape called the Shadow Walk arcs through the complex. Using plantings to cast shadows on the surrounding hardscape and architecture, the Shadow Walk landscape participates in the drama of the park. A 300-foot-long water feature called the Arroyo is expressed as a dry creek bed lined in gold travertine tile and slices of lava rock. Emulating the flash floods that shape natural arroyos, the water feature channels a shallow brook of water through the site, tempering the heat of the desert environment. A variety of small "parklets" supplement the grand outdoor promenade, offering spaces for solitude, for large- and small-group gathering, and for outdoor performances and exhibits.
The Mesa Arts Center's Performing Live series brings national and international artists to Mesa and East Valley regional audiences. A four-theater performing arts building accommodates this expansive presenting program and sits on one half of the arts center site. Expressed as a folded glass plane, a shared lobby for the four theaters of the performing arts center parallels the Arroyo and offers views to the theaters during evening performances. Horizontal fabric sunshades and an installation by artist Ned Kahn protect the lobbies from glare and solar gain during the day.
The four theaters that house the Mesa Arts Center's performing arts presenting program include the Ikeda Theater, a 1,600-seat multipurpose venue whose acoustic panels encircle audiences in a dynamic architectural environment inspired by the sculpted sandstone walls of Arizona’s desert canyons.
The 553-seat Piper Repertory Theater serves as the resident venue for Arizona Shakespeare Theater. A 200-seat children's playhouse features a steep rake to its seating, so that children can see over children and adults sitting in rows in front of them. A 100-seat studio theater serves as a black box venue, a rehearsal space, and a meeting room.
A studio arts education building housing 13 studios and administration spaces occupy the west side of the Mesa Arts Center site. The arts education building contains studios for ceramics, drawing, glasswork, printmaking, acting, music, sculpture, and lapidary. It is arranged in a series of stepped terraces and outdoor courtyards allowing the studios direct outdoor access. In a partnership with higher education, the Mesa Valley Community College offers its visual arts programs through the Mesa Arts Center, instructing students in the the center's studios.
An art in architecture program executed in conjunction with the design of the arts center integrates works by artists Beth Galston, Ned Kahn, and Catheine Widgery into the architecture of the complex.
A regional visual arts collector and presenter, Mesa Contemporary Arts occupies a 10,000-square-foot exhibit space located below the arts center's entry garden, providing temperature and solar contol for the sensitive works on display. The gallery curates works from its permanent collection and presents touring exhibitions. Gallery support spaces include a lobby, a classroom, and curatorial and preparatorial space. A sculpture court welcomes visitors entering the galleries through a stair tower or from the adjacent Shadow Walk.
Other arts centers
BodyVox Center for Dance
Collin County Center for the Arts
Lesher Regional Arts Center
Northwest Museum of Art and Culture
Pomona College Seaver Theater
Portland Center for the Performing Arts
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art Temporary Theater
Scripps College Music Building & Performing Arts Center
University of New Mexico Fine Arts Center
UC Davis Mondavi Center for the Arts
UT Austin Bass Performance Hall
UT Permian Basin Wagner-Noel Performing Arts Center
1000 X Architecture of the Americas
Braun Publishing, 2008
Award Winning Projects 2006
Urban Land Institute, October, 2006
"A Moving Experience: The New Mesa Arts Center," June-August, 2005
"Experience Art," March, 2006
"Building As Nature Does," April, 2006
"Outdoor Performance," November/December, 2008
"Mesa, Martha, and the MAC," March, 2007
Lighting and Sound America
"The Mesa Multiplex," March, 2006
Parks & Recreation
"From Crabgrass to Art Glass," January, 2008
"Southwest Day Trip: Mesa," February, 2007
Urban Land"The Suburban Arts Center," December, 2005
Urban Land Institute
Award for Excellence, 2006
American Society of Landscape Architects
General Design Honor Award, 2007
International Interior Design Association
Honor Award, 2006
Valley Forward Association
Art in Public Places, 2006
Urban Plazas, 2005
Public Assembly Space, 2005