The 1975 Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts was one of the most notable projects designed by the late Arizona architect Bennie Gonzales, FAIA, who also designed Scottsdale’s signature municipal structures, including the city hall and main library, which are linked to the arts center by the park-like Scottsdale Civic Center. Gonzales was known for his simple, pure forms that echoed both classic Southwestern and Native-American architectural themes. The 100,000-square-foot performing arts center was designed to include a large main theater, a smaller, secondary theater, gallery space, offices and a vast central atrium.
During the course of the years, the arts center became a beloved venue in the city, hosting numerous performances, events, art shows and more. The theaters, the atrium and the galleries were tweaked to meet changing audience and city needs. Several years ago, however, it became apparent that the center was in need of a major renovation. It was time to bring everything up to current codes and standards, both from a technical, performance side as well as the patron side.
A major renovation in 2009 by architect John Douglas modernized the Center’s main entrance and interiors. The cool and spacious Dayton Fowler Grafman Atrium welcomes visitors and showcases Kana Tanaka’s radiant glass sculpture, Spirit of Camelback, commissioned by the Scottsdale Public Art Program. Known for its intimacy and comfort, the Center’s state-of-the-art, 853-seat Virginia G. Piper Theater envelopes with its warm, wood interiors and excellent acoustics, while its gently sloped seating and superior viewing connect audience and artist.
Additional venues include the Center’s 137-seat Stage 2 theater and neighboring 1,800-capacity Scottsdale Civic Center Amphitheater. The Center is located on a lush, 21-acre urban park, a short walk from Scottsdale’s Old Town and gallery districts. Nearby attractions include Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE and Louise Nevelson’s Windows to the West sculptures as well as the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) with James Turrell’s Knight Rise skyspace.
The Scottsdale Center is now one of the premier performing-arts halls in the Western United States, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts is recognized for its diverse, high-quality presentations of classical and world music, dance, jazz and theater, educational programs and festivals, which serve more than 200,000 people annually.