Ahmanson Founders Room
The Ahmanson Founders Room project was initiated in 2004 as a political, social and economical device geared toward enhancing institutional fundraising through private membership at the Ahmanson Theatre. The existing design of the theatre de-emphasized the value of the Founders by wedging the dedicated room into a small, closed-ended space. Beyond the physical limitations on size, there was no opportunity for additional services such as food and beverages to be included with the Founders experience. The scope involved satisfying these purely logistical issues of an adaptive re-use project while simultaneously checking contemporary aesthetic against the political will of the theatre group. Economically, the new space has become an income generator for the theatre. The theatre has benefited from the added food and beverage service coupled with lengthier periods of time spent by visitor at the room. The Founders Room has shifted from one that periodically served the desires of few to one that is held in high regard by all and beckons future members. The space has been revived as an essential and desirable part of each night’s event program. Politically, the contemporary-yet-not-all-that-unfamiliar design aesthetic increased the enthusiasm and identity of the Founders and seated this group comfortably and visibly among the contributors of the Los Angeles Music Center. Adaptive Re-use Having felt a great need to improve the members’ amenities, the Music Center staff searched for space to provide the Ahmanson Founders with their new room. Unsuccessful after many attempts, a stagehand came to the rescue when he remembered there was an old storage room in the garage behind the existing bar. This room had been used to store documents and other miscellaneous files since the ‘60s when the theatre opened. Following this discovery, the strategy in plan was to annex this existing storage space adjacent to the garage and to combine that with excess space from the existing lobby. Founders enter through the garage and can immediately check a coat or pick up tickets for the evening’s soiree. When ready to enter the show, direct access to the public lobby is available where entry to the Orchestra Level of seating is immediate. Design Techniques The necessities of the project set a stage for the marriage of two seemingly dichotomous components: computer generated means of design/fabrication as well as the visceral predictions of affective architectural qualities"primarily light and warmth. The design ties together various architectural elements through a series of quantitative relationships. Working primarily with the ‘flat’ nature of wood panels, there were simultaneous pursuits to develop three-dimensional textures from two-dimensional data as well as operational devices set in place to control one data set through the functions of another. Whatever the extent of differences between components of the finished room may be, there is a resounding aura of connectivity between texture, material, color and light. The Founders Room design should be seen as an attempt to judge objectively the ratio of cohesion between quantitative design techniques and the overall architectural experience.


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