Three Performing Arts Theaters Designed by Quattrocchi Kwok Architects Opening in San Mateo Union High School District

San Mateo, Calif., Oct. 1, 2013 – Quattrocchi Kwok Architects (QKA) announces the completion of three theater projects this month for the San Mateo Union High School District (SMUHSD), and will celebrate the grand opening of the newly renovated, 1,540-seat, 55,000-square-foot San Mateo Performing Arts Center (SMPAC) at San Mateo High School on Oct. 3. The openings of a renovated theater at Mills High School and a new theater at Hillsdale High School will follow later this month.

SMPAC, which will be the largest theater between San Francisco and San Jose, was originally built in 1963 and underwent an extensive demolition, reconstruction and renovation, resulting in a three-story modernized facility. In addition to QKA, the project team included construction management company Greystone West, general contractor Cahill Construction, acoustic consultant Bill Dohn and theatrical consultants Shalleck Collaborative.

“While I am lucky enough to always feel passionate about my work designing educational facilities, I particularly love performing arts theaters,” said Mark Quattrocchi, principal at QKA. “The highly technical design components and collaboration with talented consultants for features like lighting and acoustics allow for truly inspiring spaces that will foster a number of creative uses for students and faculty. We were thrilled to bring SMUHSD’s vision for aesthetics and functionality to life, and these new theaters – SMPAC in particular – will also be available for broader community use, providing live cultural, musical and theatrical experiences to all in the region.”

After demolishing the existing lobby and nearly the entire interior, SMPAC features a new basement space, lobby, seating area, orchestra pit and fly loft. The 17,700-square-foot basement will allow for wardrobe storage, “green rooms,” a scene shop and other support spaces. Providing an inviting entrance for theater-goers, the three-story, glass wall lobby boasts enhanced patron services, such as concessions and bathrooms distributed throughout the main and mezzanine levels to reduce congestion, as well as audio and video screens for broadcasting performances. The 1,540 seats are arranged in a wrap-around configuration for optimal stage viewing. The theater also makes use of state-of-the-art technical components, including production rigging, lighting, variable acoustics and AV systems.

The SMUHSD Board of Trustees and staff have dedicated the SMPAC as a place to serve the highest ideals of the arts as a vehicle for human creativity, freedom of expression and enrichment, knowing that it’s an integral part of the education experience.

“Studies have demonstrated that participating in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking and verbal skills. It can also improve motivation, concentration, confidence and teamwork. The SMPAC, Mills High School and Hillsdale High School theaters will be fabulous teaching tools not only from a traditional standpoint, but in fostering a deeper connection to artistic expression, social bonds and community cohesion. These new state-of-the-art theaters will benefit our students and community for generations to come,” said Elizabeth McManus, Deputy Superintendent at SMUSHD.

The Mills High School theater underwent an extensive remodel and upgrading of amenities to replace its previous auditorium. It now boasts a two-story glass lobby that faces the quad, moveable acoustics, multiple catwalks and other theatrical elements. The previous Hillsdale High School auditorium was inadequately sized and underutilized, so it was replaced and expanded to become an inviting space, offering more performing arts features. The theater boasts a new lobby with quarry tile columns and two-story glass walls. Both Mills and Hillsdale High School theaters seat 780 guests.

All three of the SMUHSD theaters will be available for rent by outside groups. SMPAC has long been seen as a community staple, with groups like the Peninsula Symphony and Broadway by the Bay often utilizing it for their performances.

About Quattrocchi Kwok Architects
Santa Rosa-based Quattrocchi Kwok Architects (QKA) provides comprehensive master planning, design and construction administration services for Northern California K-12 and higher education, historic renovation and community facilities. With more than $1 billion in projects completed in the company’s 26-year history, QKA’s award-winning portfolio reflects a commitment to design that emphasizes environmental sustainability and community impact. Recent projects include the new American Canyon High School, which is heralded as the “greenest school in America” and has achieved the highest score of a California school to date from the Collaborative for High Performance School (CHPS) verified program. Visit:

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