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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.

Project Scope

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.


Awards & Recognition
  • Engineering News-Record
    ENR California Regional Best Project (2019)
The Challenge

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.

Crane moving steel into building
the Solutions

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.

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.

Underside of the steel structure of a concert hall
Inside of theater under construction
The Results

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.

View of the stage
Theater interior