‘Wow factor’: Newport-Mesa school board gets a look at Estancia theater design

A rendering shows the planned theater complex at Estancia High School in Costa Mesa.
A rendering shows the planned theater complex at Estancia High School in Costa Mesa.
(Courtesy of Newport-Mesa Unified School District)

Renderings of the new $32-million theater complex planned for Costa Mesa’s Estancia High School show it sitting along the campus’ curving Placentia Avenue frontage — an anchor in a scenic area that abuts Fairview Park.

The new theater wing has the “wow factor,” Ara Zareczny, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District’s director of facilities development, planning and design, told district trustees this week as they approved the project’s schematic design.

In addition to the 300-seat main theater, which will be used for drama, dance and music productions, the complex will have a small black-box theater, a green room, “back of the house” space for costume and set design and storage, a box office and an entrance plaza. It will occupy the space in front of the set-back gym.

The trustees Monday also approved a $334,000 amendment to the design contract with the project’s architect, Los Angeles-based Pfeiffer Partners, to pick up work on nearby elements — new security fencing, beautification of the filled-in swimming pool area that is being repurposed as a courtyard, and modification to the parking lots — to take advantage of cost efficiencies and create a uniform, integrated look. The added work brings the design contract to $1.9 million.

Estancia High School drama students rehearse a scene from an original play they performed in January at the school’s Barbara Van Holt Theater. A new theater complex is planned for the Costa Mesa school.
(File Photo)

Theatrical productions currently are held in the school’s Barbara Van Holt Theater.

A timeline for completion of the new theater has not been determined.

Pfeiffer Partners’ portfolio of performing arts spaces includes Chapman University’s Musco Center for the Arts and Cal State Fullerton’s Joseph A.W. Clayes Performing Arts Center.

Security fencing

The district agreed to advertise for bids to install securi ty fencing at Ensign Intermediate and Corona del Mar High schools.

The board’s decision to go to bid on the estimated $6.8-million project came amid concerns from some residents that creating a single point of entry would make access problematic on weekends when sports fields, such as the soccer field at Ensign, are shared with the community.

Vlad Anderson, a retired Newport Beach police officer, former Ensign school resource officer and Marine Corps military police veteran who now offers consulting services on student safety, noted that even Disneyland has a single point of entry. A centralized entrance also helps school officials know who’s on campus and who should be there, he said.

Corona del Mar High and Ensign Intermediate got temporary chain-link perimeter fencing last year as an interim measure until the district can install permanent fences.

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