The Long Beach Mobile ArtSpace began with a simple, provocative question. What if you didn’t have to go to an opera house or gallery to see art? And what if voids in the city fabric transformed into places for experience, engagement and dialogue when the arts came to cities like Long Beach, East Los Angeles, Compton, San Bernardino?
The challenge and promise of the project is transformation. Born from the necessity of deployment on multiple sites, the Mobile ArtSpace, winner of an international design competition, seeks to embody this logic of change even after it arrives on site, creating a mutable architecture that is a continuous narrative of flexibility. The portable performance venue first arrives on site as an enigmatic Black Box, its aesthetic not unlike the shipping containers at the nearby port. As day gives way to night, this Black Box begins to come alive, animated by a light and ambient sound artwork. In advance of each performance, a large helium-filled object emerges overhead. Through projection at its base and onboard LEDs, this Beacon can take on a wide range of atmospheres, enabling both more abstract and overt conversation with the surrounding community.
Five demountable panels unfold to support end stage, thrust, and arena configurations. An armature at the box’s center integrates storage, structure to raise and lower the stage panels, and acts as a green room once unpacked. The Canopy overhead is a new kind of scenographic device, both fly tower and backdrop, with an integrated programmable LED array. Though the structure is nearly weightless, it is subject to significant wind loads, with complex loading with positive and negative pressure akin to a very tall building. Forces are resolved via a three-dimensional cable truss, combining vertical steel struts and cable members with outboard anchorages. Finally, while awaiting transfer to its next site, an ambient soundscape emanates from within, a remix of the performance that has ended, echoing what has passed and an evocation of what is to come.
“The Mobile ArtSpace represents some of the most exciting work I have been involved with over my career. For far too long, the average citizen has been forced to make special arrangements to attend and experience an arts performance. This project turns that notion on its head by transporting a visionary performance space directly to our community.”
C R A I G W A T S O N, D I R E C T O R
C A L I F O R N I A A R T S C O U N C I L
“The Mobile ArtSpace frees art from the confines of the ivory tower and allows it to dance in the streets throughout our cities.”
M A R C O S C H I N D E L M A N, P R E S I D E N T
A R T S C O U N C I L O F L O N G B E A C H
A W A R D S
Progressive Architecture (P/A) Award,
First Prize, International Design Competition
AIA Los Angeles NEXT LA Award
AIA South Bay Design Award
S E R V I C E S
Architecture & Urban Design
T E A M
Formation Association | Environmental Design
Buro Happold | Engineering
Steve Roden | Art
Stages | Theater Design & Acoustics
Sean O’Connor Lighting | Lighting Design
Sonitus | AV/IT