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The Tustin Market Place Community Center, Tustin, CA

How can a former retail space be effectively and attractively repurposed with in a community? Across the country, designers and community leaders face these kinds of challenges within areas that are growing and evolving with their local populations. Vacated retail spaces can serve as opportunities or blights depending on how they’re addressed.

In the case of Tustin, California’s The Edwards Theater at The Market Place, designers and property owners faced unique demand for a successful and well-crafted outcome for the abandoned building, as it had been designed by renowned Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta. There was an expectation that Legorreta’s work be respected and maintained even in light of a major transformation in the space’s use.

Originally constructed in 1990, the 25,700 square foot center, located on the second floor of a larger retail “village,” was used as a six-theater complex. All six theaters were stadium style with sloping floors, connected with a two-story concourse that incorporated a lobby with concession area adjacent to the entrance. The building is centrally positioned within the larger retail village, and, thus, is integral to overall design, function, and visitor experience.

Despite the closure of the cinema, the retail stores and restaurants on the ground level remained active. Management offices were moved to the second floor, utilizing two of the former theaters; however, four theater spaces stood vacant, awaiting new purpose and life. It was decided that the remaining theaters would be turned into a community center, which would include a flexible meeting room with a folding partition, a reception space and two auditoriums with state-of-the-art audio-visual technology.

Characteristic of Legorreta’s style, the exterior of the building carried a minimalistic theme that focused on the use of color, proportion, and light as design elements. In contrast, the theater complex’s interior had been designed with a nod to Art Deco Hollywood movie era punctuated with vibrant colors and neon accents. In the redesign, the design team proposed to align the interior look with Legorreta’s exterior style, creating a consistent, sophisticated aesthetic through use of a lighter and warmer color palette.

To that end, product specifiers selected Crossville’s Virtue 12”x24” with a look reminiscent of Carrara marble, imparting an inviting yet contemporary feel within the community center while also providing required ADA slip resistance. The Virtue tile creates a lovely, continuous first impression upon entry to the center, especially lovely thanks to the natural, modulated light that comes through a series of vertical, slotted windows within the concourse. The tile is paired with modular carpet that carries a multidimensional pattern and supports the the needed acoustical value in the space for the private offices, public meeting rooms, reception area, and theaters.

Ultimately, the design team found the flooring specification attained the ideal look to carry Legorreta’s inspired design throughout the interior spaces and captured the collaborative, community-focused spirit of this unique reuse project. The cohesion between exterior and interior creates an inviting environment for the community to come together, as locals share in the vision for a purposeful, progressive future.

Project Team:

Architect: Robinson Hill Architecture, Inc.
Interior Architect: Robinson Hill Architecture, Inc.; Romey Design; The Irvine Company
Photo Credit: Tom Lamb, Lamb Studio