Design firm proposes fixes to aging Starlight Bowl

A design firm on Tuesday presented an $18-million, 20-year plan to renovate the city's outdoor Starlight Bowl amphitheater, which representatives of the firm called "drastically underutilized" and "slightly tired" in terms of its physical condition and programming.

In a joint meeting with the City Council and the Park, Recreation and Community Services Board, a team representing Lehrer Architects Westlake Reed Leskosky Design laid out a multiphase plan that recommends a host of infrastructure improvements for the facility's restrooms, seating areas, parking lot, concessions, dressing rooms and lighting for both onstage and along walkways.

Currently, the amphitheater is used for high school graduations and summer concerts, and is also rented out, mostly to studios for movies and commercials. The proposed improvements would help enhance the audience experience, as well as boost the facility's technical and production capabilities, officials said.

"I think we would all agree that the Starlight Bowl is indeed a gem," said Judie Wilke, the city's director of park, recreation and community services. "In order to do more at the bowl, we really need to delve into the existing infrastructure issues."

The report recommended tackling safety issues and the most-pressing infrastructure needs within the first four years — to the tune of $3.2 million. That includes fixing restroom plumbing, replacing the amphitheater seating, addressing uneven lighting and paving the road that a shuttle travels along.

"Accessibility is a big issue at the bowl," said Peter Rutti, the firm's design director. "We really found that most of the actual ramps and access ways in and out of the bowl are very steep."

City officials will use the report to draw up a list of priorities, a mission statement and potential funding options to present to the park board sometime in the next three or four months, and later to the council, Wilke said.

"We're going to focus on things we really need to operate more efficiently and attract more higher-level acts," Wilke said.

Additional long-term renovations the firm recommended for the bowl, which has a capacity of 4,300, include adding a new sound and light tower, building more restrooms — which often have long lines during intermissions — and expanding the concession booth, which although in good condition, is too small to cook in and meet the demands of patrons.

The report also stated that the bowl is currently susceptible to vandalism and trespassing, which can be mitigated through extra security or surveillance cameras.


Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.


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