View from the stage

The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center

The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center | La Jolla, CA

The Conrad, the new home of the La Jolla Music Society, was conceived as a haven for the performing arts within the Village of La Jolla’s central business district. With its protected yet inviting garden courtyard—defined by the 513-seat Baker-Baum Concert Hall and the 116-seat flexible use space—The Conrad offers an opportunity to experience classical and contemporary music within an environment that celebrates community and its beloved local setting. Highlighting the Conrad, the Baker-Baum Concert Hall is a state-of-the-art performance space.

It provides an intimate setting for non-amplified music in chamber or recital form for groups of up to 40 members. With the ability to activate stage lifts, hinged stage borders, audio and projection systems, adjustable acoustic banners, and stage rigging, the room can also readily and seamlessly transform into an appropriate setting for jazz, world music, dance, light opera, film and lectures.


  • Design Team Joseph Wong Design Associates
  • Design Team Epstein Joslin Architects


This high profile performing arts center features a 500-seat concert hall, a 150-seat cabaret/multi-use space, offices, rehearsal rooms, production and support areas, a donor reception room, a catering kitchen, concessions areas and a large open courtyard.

The concert hall seating is arranged in a two-level semi-circular form, much like lyric and opera theaters, with a strong emphasis on the visual connection from patron to stage. An acoustically permeable wood “nest” wraps both audience and performance platform so that the sound energy that comes off the performance platform can pass through the “nest” and the reflection off the outer “shoe box”-shaped heavy concrete and masonry shell, a preferred classic concert hall geometry and material that benefits non-amplified music with its rich auditory warmth.



Based on soil boring and documented soil conditions, the planned foundations for the concert hall basement were designed to be spread footings with a slab-on-grade atop sand and vapor barrier. As the drilling of soldier piles commenced and subsequently mass excavation, the team became aware that the site conditions were drastically different than expected. The ground water was above the slab level of the structure.

Photo: Construction for the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center



The project team strategized a foundation redesign during construction which included the implementation of below grade waterproofing bath tub and mat slab as well as a temporary dewatering system which allowed for the removal of the ground water during the installation of the new work. The team was able secure an expedited review that allowed for the continued construction of critical foundation components.

Photo: Quality and craftsmanship were key factors in all phases of construction for the world-class performance venue.

DPR led a pull planning session with key trade partners to review the new scope of work through the podium deck. This helped the DPR team resequence the schedule and reduce a 16-20 week initial impact down to 10 weeks. The proactive approach allowed the change to be implemented without stopping work onsite.

Photo: Achieving perfect sight lines from each seat to the performance platform began with the structure below.



The Conrad is a well-appointed performance and social center speaking to the ambitions of the La Jolla Music Society to grow and broaden its offerings, audience, and reach into the San Diego community, while becoming a local, regional and national destination to bring stature, visitors and cultural energy to the Village of La Jolla.

Exterior shot at opening night for La Jolla Music Society. The terracotta trellis, theater windows and box office are highlighted. Photo by Epstein Joslin Architects

The JAI features an open and flexible floor plan capped by 30-foot windows.

The Atkinson Donor Reception Room features a barrel-shaped wood slatted ceiling. The room includes audio-visual infrastructure for both meetings and entertainment gatherings.



Engineering News-Record

ENR California Regional Best Project (2019)