Mondavi arts building



Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts - Davis, California



Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616. Phone: 866.757.ARTS The sculpture pictured, See No Evil - Hear No Evil, is  one of five 'eggheads' at the UC Davis campus, by the late Robert Arneson.

Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at the University of California Davis was completed in September 2002 on the largest of the 10 University of California campuses, with 5,200 acres. Located on the campus's southern boundary near Interstate 80, the 104,000-square-foot performing arts center includes an 1,800-seat Jackson Hall and a 250-seat studio theater. The center presents music, dance, lectures and theater productions and includes state-of-the art acoustics and air systems.


The $60.9 million project — $53.5 million for construction and $7.4 million is available for use by campus academic programs, regional arts organizations and professional artists booked through UC Davis Presents. Combined with the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and the Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center, the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts includes an easily accessible public entry to the campus and conference facilities with a ballroom and meeting space for 500, a hotel with 75 guest rooms, a restaurant, pub and a visual arts center.

Robert Mondavi is internationally known for development of the California wine industry. In 1966, he, his elder son, R. Michael Mondavi, Robert's wife, Magrit, and family founded the Robert Mondavi Winery in the Napa Valley with the goal of producing wines that would rival the finest wines of Europe.  These founders and major benefactors were also instrumental in the building and funding of COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts, a world-class center celebrating the bounty of the American table. Robert and Margrit additionally helped in restoration of the 19th-century Napa Valley Opera House and the Oxbow School, a new art school in Napa that provides grants and instruction to art students in their junior year of high school. They have contributed to the restoration of the Lincoln Theatre in Yountville, Calif., and have supported the Cantor Art Center at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.

Getting there: From I-80 West (from Sacramento), take the UC Davis/Mondavi Center exit. Turn right onto Old Davis Road and continue north to the parking structure entrance on the right.

Construction: Many products used in construction were made from natural and/or recycled materials such as Douglas fir that was provided by Ruby Lake Wood Products, a certified sustainable supplier of recycled fir salvaged from the bottom of lakes in Canada. Sustainable-growth bamboo was chosen for the wood flooring system in Jackson Hall and nontoxic materials with low volatile organic compounds were specified for paint, wood sealer, and adhesives.

Indian sandstone was utilized in the building, reflecting the school's agriculture roots and blending with the surrounding wine land as its coloring reflects the surrounding environment. Jade White/Gwalior Yellow sandstone, which was quarried by Tab India Inc. and fabricated in its facilities in Jaipur, India, is slightly softer than the other varieties of sandstones available from India, making it an easy material to work with according to Project Designer Stan Boles of BOORA Architects in Portland, OR. The stone was selected to fulfill the goal of literally relating to the land, Boles said. BOORA Architects has over 60 theater designs in its portfolio, plus the Getty Center.

A total of 90,000 square feet of the sandstone was used in a combination of both cleft and honed finishes. In addition to exterior stone finishes, a large wall in the lobby, which runs from the floor to the ceiling employed stones with a cleft finish, complementing the stone with glass elements visible in the lobby.

Complementing the warm golden sandstone is Ocean Green quartzitic slate quarried in India as well. Approximately 15,000 square feet of the material was employed as exterior and interior paving as well as for outdoor planters. Just as the sandstone, the slate was used in a combination of honed and natural finishes.

If the slate's acoustic properties didn't provide a variety of challenges in installation, the Mondavi Center building site presented some unique acoustical challenges as well. The Center is located just several hundred feet from both a highly-used railway and Interstate 80, which makes for great visibility and accessibility, but also high levels of noise and ground vibration.

McKay Conant Brook Inc, acoustical consultant for the Mondavi Center, constructed a box within a box with a basement under Jackson Hall and a technical attic at the ceiling to uniquely address noise issues. An elevated basement under the audience chamber and stage which are both elevated,  several feet-thick walls on the side of the building facing the freeway, and vibration-dampening piers the building itself stands on all contributed in reducing and nearly eliminating exterior noise.

As acoustic specifications were successfully met, there also was a need for a multi-purpose facility to maintain integrity as a performing environment. The 1,800-seat multi-purpose Jackson Hall theatre utilizes an adaptable stage area with a massive yet mobile structure called an Orchestra Enclosure and Canopy. Weighing 54,000 pounds, the structure can be raised or lowered depending on the size of the ensemble, thus helping musicians hear each other, while also projecting nearly the full volume of the performance to the audience chamber.


Jackson Hall also contains large velour acoustic curtains that can be electronically extended throughout the audience chamber to create flexible listening environments needed for a variety of performances. Using lasers to simulate the travel paths of sound waves from the stage, curtains were so accurately placed in key parts of the hall that the curtains can effectively be tuned for a single person, a chamber orchestra or rock band.

This high-tech venue includes a computer system that controls all of the theatrical machinery and acoustic systems by a single touch-screen panel on each stage. Over 750 theatrical lighting circuits are also controlled by the touch monitor as well.

Manpower is still needed in some facility operations, however. Clever design using air casters or rubber bladders under the Orchestra Enclosure and Canopy structure  literally float it on a cushion of air so it can be pushed in and out of position for storage when not in use. The process requires two people pushing and two directing the stage into its space with the process taking several minutes.

Advance cooling systems use displacement ventilation that relies on natural convection to lift the warm, stale air to a higher level. The air above 6 feet is not mixed with approximately half the heat gain from people and nearly all the lighting gain rising out of the space before it causes a temperature gain in the occupied zone. Carbon dioxide sensors further limit unnecessary heating and cooling of outdoor air and smaller, quieter fans keep the noise levels down.

Among its elegant design elements, the Mondavi Center main lobby includes poured concrete trenches that provide an air path serving the lowest level. Custom displacement diffusers at each of the four floor levels provide specialized cooling for specific areas. Reducing the need for cooling, the lobby which is wrapped in glass to provide views to adjacent parks, is shielded from excessive heat gain by exterior aluminum sunscreens.

Passive cooling is achieved through double roof and double wall construction. Two feet of air space separate the inner and outer walls.

What's next? A $25 million gift from the Mondavi family combined with campus funds and other private contributions will create state-of-the-art research and teaching facilities to house the UC Davis departments of viticulture and enology as well as food  science and technology. Both departments are part of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The institute will include an academic building of approximately 75,000 square feet for classrooms, laboratories, offices and meeting rooms. A 13,000-square-foot plant for food-processing, and a 36,000-square-foot building for a new campus teaching and research winery, also will be constructed within the proposed institute. The institute will be designed to be the global innovator in university-based wine and food programs and will house the largest and most prestigious wine and food science academic program in the world.

The educational components associated with the winery, brewery and food processing plant are expected to draw international visitors. Current plans call for the Robert Mondavi Institute to be located on Old Davis Road just west of the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. The departments of viticulturem and enology, food science and technology are currently housed in Wickson and Cruess halls, buildings that are nearly 50 years old.

Dixon < Davis > Sacramento