If you’ve been anywhere near the CalArts campus over the past few months, you’ve likely heard a cacophony of construction equipment—from banging jackhammers to thundering bulldozers and trench diggers to winching cranes. Sure, it’s noisy, but it’s progress!
Over the past year, CalArts has been making a concerted effort to thoughtfully expand and update its facilities and grounds in a manner that aligns closely with the Institute’s strategic framework and better serves the community, including current students and alumnx. As part of this work, several recent real estate acquisitions, as well as a major renovation to an existing space, and important infrastructure updates are in progress and transforming how it will feel to study, live, work, and practice at CalArts.
Valencia Improvements and Expansion Underway
When a leak from a large air conditioning unit on the Main Building’s roof caused massive water damage—with the Character Animation space taking the brunt—it inadvertently created an opportunity to completely upgrade the space. A major renovation is now underway—conducted in close collaboration with School of Film/Video faculty, staff, and students—that reimagines the space as a state-of-the-art facility for one of CalArts’ most prolific programs when the construction is completed this winter.
“We were able to design the space specifically for animation,” said Sara Mathov, associate vice president for Capital Facilities Planning. “Every detail takes into account how students will learn and work and the ways in which faculty will teach in the new space.”
And while the roofs on A and E Block in the Main Building are also being repaired this summer, those are not the only updates being made around campus. Improvements are taking place in Chouinard Hall as well, with new vinyl flooring being installed inside each of the residences as well as updated bathroom fixtures. New LED ceiling lights are being installed in all of the common areas and a new indoor/outdoor exercise space will be added to the Chouinard Lobby West. A major replacement is also in the works for a significant sewer line as part of a multiphased project expected to be completed by next summer.
To make the Main Building more conveniently configured for students, CalArts purchased an adjacent property on Tournament Road known as Vista Village. Various nonstudent-facing administrative units—including Accounting, Human Resources, and Finance, among others—will move into the new location, freeing up space in the Main Building for student-related services as well as gathering places.
Expanding CalArts Visibility and Capacity Across the County
Another recently purchased property located in downtown Los Angeles is providing much-needed administrative space for REDCAT and other academic units. When REDCAT opened nearly two decades ago, its lack of office space became apparent almost immediately. This new building, located at 1264 West 1st St., is about a half-mile from The Music Center that houses REDCAT. The offices also accommodate the online art magazine East of Borneo, partially supported and funded by the School of Art, and the Center for New Performance, the professional producing arm of the School of Theater and CalArts. A conference space for faculty and staff use is also available.
Last summer, CalArts also purchased an historic property in South Pasadena that will be used to host a wide range of events for our community and the public, serve as the residence for CalArts presidents, and provide an apartment for visiting artists. Known as the Cattern House, it will also expand the Institute’s visibility in the Los Angeles area as CalArts hosts exhibitions and performances, continuing the arts legacy of the home over the past century. The interior of the home, with its main floor great hall, and its exterior with grounds are currently undergoing renovations, primarily to ensure ADA compliance, update electrical and other utilities, and add solar power. Faculty and staff have also made important recommendations for upgraded sound and lighting specifications to ensure performance needs are met. The Cattern House is expected to become operational by next year.
Additional construction pictures and updates will be added to CalArts’ website as the Institute continues its work to improve spaces for the CalArts community and visitors.