Long Beach Mobile ArtSpace

February 26, 2016
A new arts venue for Long Beach. Winner of a 2016 Progressive Architecture Award.

The Arts Council for Long Beach, Calif., had one major requirement in its competition brief to design a new arts space for the city: The venue had to be mobile. With diverse neighborhoods and a glut of city-owned vacant lots, a movable venue could bring more arts to more of the population.

The winning design, from a team led by Los Angeles–based 64North with Buro Happold, Formation Association, and Steve Roden, will arrive at these vacant lots on the back of a flatbed truck. A large black cube called the Long Beach Mobile ArtSpace, it is mysterious and seemingly inert. At night, however, its reflective sides come to life with an LED light show. And prior to shows, a solar-powered, internally lit balloon will float high above, acting as a beacon to lure people to the site and the strange black cube.

Instead of a curtain rising, the cube unfolds, its four sides dropping down to form a stage that is reconfigurable up to 930 square feet. Inside, the cube houses all of the necessary lighting, audio, and electrical gear, plus components like a steel armature to hold equipment. It also includes three more industrial-sized balloons that, when tethered to the stage, support the lighting rig, as well as fold-up shelving for a stand-alone green room—one configuration of the cube—for performers. ...