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Taper will undergo yearlong remodeling

More lobby space, comfortable seats and improved acoustics are on the agenda.

January 30, 2007|Diane Haithman | Times Staff Writer

The Music Center's Mark Taper Forum will receive a $30-million interior renovation beginning in July, Music Center officials said Monday.

The remodeling project, expected to continue through mid-2008, will include doubling the lobby space by relocating restrooms to a downstairs lounge and upgrading the auditorium with more comfortable seats and improved acoustics.

The auditorium will maintain its 750-seat size, said Michael Ritchie, artistic director of Center Theatre Group, which oversees the Taper as well as the Ahmanson Theatre and Culver City's Kirk Douglas Theatre. "The great thing about it is that it is a major upgrade of the facilities and the building, but the relationship between audience and stage doesn't change at all," he said, adding that no programming has been determined.

During construction, Taper subscribers will be offered a four-production subscription for the 2007-08 season that will include two productions in the Ahmanson and two in the newly remodeled Taper. The Ahmanson closed for two years beginning in 1993 for a $17-million renovation.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday February 01, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 29 words Type of Material: Correction
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion: An article in Tuesday's Calendar section about the remodeling of the Mark Taper Forum said the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion opened in 1967. It opened in 1964.

The redesign will preserve the lobby's abalone shell wall while adding terrazzo flooring and raising the lobby ceiling, which will be lighted in a radial grid pattern.

The exterior of the 40-year-old Welton Becket-designed structure, including the building's signature 378-foot precast concrete mural relief, will be maintained and cleaned.

Including a lead gift of $5 million from an anonymous donor, $22 million of the funding has been secured for the renovation, to be designed by the architectural firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios of Los Angeles and theatrical consultant Roger Morgan of Sachs Morgan Studios. Additional sources of funding include about $12 million from facility improvement reserves and $4.9 million from the County of Los Angeles.

The announcement follows last week's confirmation by Los Angeles Opera general director Placido Domingo that the opera's home, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion -- which like the Taper opened in 1967 -- will close for a year beginning as early as 2011 for a $40-million-plus renovation. That project also will concentrate on interior lobby and theater improvements and maintain the structure's historic exterior. Funding has yet to be raised.

In an interview Monday, Music Center Chairman John B. Emerson called Domingo's confirmation of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion renovation "a little premature -- the Mark Taper is the one that's really teed up and ready to go.

"If you think about it, this historic campus was built over 40 years ago, before many of the technological advances that have come to theater and the presentation of the performing arts," Emerson said.

He added that the renovation was the next phase of a Music Center upgrade that was highlighted by the construction of the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, which opened in 2003 as the new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. It also plays a part in the $2-billion project to remake Grand Avenue that is scheduled to begin later this year.

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diane.haithman@latimes.com

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