Construction Commences on Combs High School Auditorium

More than 150 community members, J.O. Combs Unified School District administration and staff, students, and members of the design team gathered today for a groundbreaking ceremony for the new 25,000 SF auditorium at Combs High School. With the construction of this facility, the original full campus master plan for Combs High School will be complete. DLR Group led the original master plan for the high school campus and designed the school, which opened in 2009.

DLR Group designed the auditorium for maximum functionality for students, educators and audience members. In order to serve all users, the house will be used as a hands-on teaching space for the school’s Stagecraft and Fine Arts programs and will be acoustically balanced for both amplified sound and live performances. The lobby will offer an area to showcase student art pieces.

“Design is about connecting users to the space and surrounding environment. Our design for the auditorium celebrates three primary connections: to the surrounding view, to the community, and to the school campus,” said DLR Group Principal Pam Loeffelman, FAIA.

The view of the nearby Superstition Mountains is emphasized by a wall of windows in the lobby and through a northern entry plaza that duals as a pre-function space. Connectivity to the community includes large signage along Germann Road. Plus, the entire auditorium is available to community members for personal and business use. Connection to the campus is achieved through educational spaces that are clustered in the back of the house, giving students and teachers a space to call their own and learn the craft of theater and dance.

“DLR Group and the District opted to focus on the house experience first and foremost,” said Loeffelman. “Our in-house theater experts found the right blend of equipment that meets the needs of students and theater programs and fits within the District’s allocated funds.”

Lighting in the auditorium is a combination of LED lights controlled through a network and incandescent lights that teach professional-style theater stagecraft. DLR Group also researched a variety of cost efficient elements to incorporate throughout the space. The main drapery curtain is flown out of the way during performances, which allows students to rehearse the most challenging aspects of rigging, while the remaining drapery is stationary to save costs.

McCarthy Building Companies served as the general contractor for the project, and construction management services were provided by Arcadis.