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Proposed festival upgrade perused

Plans call for new landscaping and a more welcoming pedestrian environment.

December 05, 2013|By Bryce Alderton
  • Festival of Arts officials want to renovate the exterior façade and create a more pedestrian-friendly environment at the Laguna Canyon Road property. The project is estimated to cost $2 million, according to festival officials.
Festival of Arts officials want to renovate the exterior… (Bauer Architects )

Festival of Arts officials want to spruce up their front yard, so to speak, with a revamped facade and landscaping.

Festival board President Fred Sattler repeated the words "old" and "tired' when describing the facility's exterior facade, which needs an upgrade, he said.

Sattler presented preliminary designs for a revamped exterior with landscaping and a more welcoming pedestrian environment at the festival's annual meeting in November.

The festival is home to a summer fine art exhibit and the Pageant of the Masters, a 90-minute stage show of "living pictures" — art re-creations of classical and contemporary works with real people posing to look like their counterparts in the original pieces.

He explained the proposed project for the property at 650 Laguna Canyon Road in further detail during a phone conversation Monday.

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The current entrance was designed 12 years ago and was supposed to be temporary, Sattler said.

"It looks old and tired," Sattler said. "We also recognized an area currently used for parking is also old. We want to make the whole area friendly to pedestrians."

Sattler gave an example of a design where visitors won't need to step off a curb onto the ground below.

The idea is to create a more beautiful entry into the festival, from the administration building to the parking area, that blends into the canyon's natural surroundings while incorporating California native plants.

"We're still looking at things, but the thought is to put sycamores, oaks and native grasses," Sattler said.

Festival staff retained Newport Beach-based Bauer Architects to lead the design.

Bauer focuses on environmental sustainability and energy-conscious designs, according to the firm's website.

The proposal maintains the current number of parking spots, 16, closest to Laguna Canyon Road, Sattler said.

The festival has enough money saved to pay for the project's estimated $2-million price tag, according to Sattler. Festival officials began discussing the project several years ago, he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson hopes the city will collaborate with the festival on a design that could complement future plans at the proposed Village Entrance, a development project that included a parking structure at one point.

"I like it all," Pearson said of the proposal. "[The festival] has hired a first-class designer. It might be efficient to buy light fixtures that match on both sides of the road."

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