New CSUSB Performing Arts Center construction project plans approved

Courtesy photo: Artist rendering of CSUSB Performing Arts Center.

Cal State San Bernardino is one step closer to a new Performing Arts village at the university, a $111 million construction and renovation project that would add two new buildings to campus including a new Performing Arts Center and an academic building that would serve as an anchor to the College of Arts and Letters.

The project will also renovate the existing performing arts building for future college expansion.

The schematic design of the village project was approved by the California State University Board of Trustees at its Sept. 23 meeting. The project is currently scheduled to open during the 2024-25 academic year.

“The new performing arts center will both redefine the entry experience to the university and at the same time, provide state-of-the-art academic experiences to our students. We expect that this will be the premier performing arts facility for our community and the Inland Empire,” said Doug Freer, CSUSB vice president for administration and finance.

“We are excited to see this project moving forward. The project, and specifically the performing arts theater, have been years in the making and will provide state-of-the-art facilities for the College of Arts and Letters that have not been available to our students before,” said Jenny Sorenson, associate vice president of Facilities Planning & Management. 

College of Arts and Letters Dean Rueyling Chuang said the Performing Arts Center project has been years in the making.

“I am thrilled that our dream of having a new Performing Arts Center and an academic building that solidifies our sense of community is finally becoming a reality. It has been a long journey to finally get the Performing Arts Building Addition Project (i.e., the “village”) funded by the Chancellor’s Office and the village’s schematic design approved by the CSU Board of Trustees,” said Chuang. “We hope that the new Performing Arts Center will provide invaluable learning experiences for our students and it will bridge the connection between our campus and local communities. This project exemplifies the continuation of our campus master plan, specifically with regard to enhancing our campus and connecting communities in the Inland Empire.”

The two new buildings are a 74,817 square-foot Performing Arts Center, with a 500-seat theater and music instruction space to be located south of the Performing Arts Building and a 19,020 square-foot College of Arts and Letters building located to the west of the existing Performing Arts Building. The multi-faceted project includes the renovation of the aging 1970s performing arts building.

The Performing Arts project will be the first new state-funded academic building on campus under CSUSB’s current master plan. The goals for the College of Arts and Letters expansion include:

  • Establishing a physical home for the College of Arts and Letters by co-locating the various college departments, which are currently scattered across campus. This is a significant step for the continued development of the CSUSB master plan, as it sets the stage for future projects to accommodate anticipated growth. Students will benefit from a one-stop shop for advising, instructional support, and other services specific to the College of Arts and Letters.
  • Providing modern teaching, rehearsal and performance spaces necessary for a modern performing arts program.  The existing Performing Arts building was completed in 1977 and has not kept pace with the changes in contemporary music instruction. Renovation of the existing Performing Arts building will smartly and efficiently re-purpose vacated spaces to support the needs of the College as well as reduce the campus deferred maintenance backlog.
  • The new Performing Arts Center building will create a new “front door” to the campus that shows a modern and forward-looking face to visitors and the larger community.
  • Creating a new 500-seat performing arts theater will allow the university to provide a more equitable educational experience that reflects the excellence of the theater arts and music programs at CSUSB. At completion, the theater will be the only one of its size and quality in the Inland Empire, and will allow more of the area’s community to experience the highly acclaimed productions from CSUSB student-performers and student-musicians. 

The project’s architect is the Los Angeles office of HGA Architects, and the general contractor is the Los Angeles office of Rudolph and Sletten. 

In September 2017, the CSU Board of Trustees approved the updated CSUSB physical campus master plan with an enrollment ceiling increase from 20,000 to 25,000 full-time equivalent students. This change recognized the increasing demand for higher education in the Inland Empire, as the fastest growing region in the nation according to the 2010 U.S. census.

With the support of the board of trustees, CSUSB began implementing the campus master plan first through the completion of a 400-bed student housing and dining commons in 2018, the Center for Global Innovation classroom building in 2019, and most recently with the Student Union Expansion project, expected to be completed in late 2021.