Balboa Theatre

  • Client

    • Centre City Development Corp
  • Project Type

Design Achievement - The Balboa Theatre is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the 1,339-seat live performance venue is the most architecturally significant and ornate theatre in San Diego. It features eclectic Mediterranean-style decoration and a tall, rectilinear hall with excellent natural acoustics. DLR Group|Westlake Reed Leskosky’s design restores a piece of San Diego’s history and adapts the space to accommodate diverse performance programs—from music, theater, dance, and choral presentations to community, corporate, and convention gatherings. The design restored the exterior rotunda, lobbies, and the entire audience chamber and balcony. New, wider seating was installed and the decorative ceiling, walls, and original chandeliers were restored and featured waterfalls were returned to working order. Based on a small black and white glass slide from the 1920s and historical research to determine colors and allegory, the design team reproduced the original, hand-painted Grand Drape that was no longer in existence. 

Scope Summary – The Balboa Theatre is one of the country’s last remaining large historic theaters to be restored on this scale. Completed in several phases in accordance with The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, the project culminated an 18-year effort to return the vaudeville-era theater and movie house to its original 1924 splendor while transforming it into a modern, multi-use performing arts center. New mechanical, electrical, and performance systems such as rigging, lighting, and audiovisual systems were installed. An orchestra pit lift, orchestra side shell panels, and full variable acoustics were added. The lobby, box office, loading area, and public amenities were improved and expanded. The structure was reinforced for seismic stability and the blade sign and marquee were recreated. The renovation was accomplished under the direction of the Civic San Diego, a public, nonprofit corporation created by the City to facilitate the redevelopment of 1,500 acres in downtown San Diego. DLR Group|WRL provided integrated architecture, MEP engineering, interior design, and theater technical services for this project. 

DLR Group acquired Westlake Reed Leskosky in September 2016. Today, the combined expertise and design resources of Westlake Reed Leskosky and DLR Group serve clients as a collaborative studio committed to elevating the human experience through design.

Awards & Recognition

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  • Merit Award, Distinguished Building

    American Institute of Architects (AIA) Western Mountain Region
  • Citation Award

    American Institute of Architects (AIA) Arizona
  • Merit Award for Preservation

    American Institute of Architects (AIA) Cleveland
  • Honor Award

    American Institute of Architects (AIA) Ohio
  • Honorable Mention for Preservation

    International Interior Design Association (IIDA), Ohio Kentucky Chapter
  • Project of the Year

    American Public Works Association
  • 25th Annual Reconstruction & Renovation Awards, Platinum Award

    Building Design & Construction
  • Preservation Design Award

    California Preservation Foundation

Balboa Theatre

Centre City Development Corp