Westlake Reed Leskosky

San Diego, California


The restoration of the Balboa Theatre, bordering the Gaslamp Quarter Historic District in San Diego, California, recreates the vaudeville-era theatre and movie house to its original 1924 design, while transforming it into a modern performing arts center that accommodates diverse performance programs, as well as community, corporate, and convention gatherings.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 1,339-seat live performance theatre in the heart of downtown has been renovated under the direction of the Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC), a public, nonprofit corporation created by the city of San Diego for the redevelopment of 1,500 acres downtown. CCDC renovated the landmark located within the Horton Plaza redevelopment project area, succeeding after numerous attempts to make it viable though private developers had failed.  The rebirth of the Balboa – a structure that blends Mediterranean Classicism with Moorish and Spanish revival styles, and one of America’s last surviving and un-restored historic theatres of its scale to be preserved – exemplifies how preservation and reinvestment contributes to the reinvigoration of communities.

A 22-year effort and comprehensive $26.5 million phased project solved space constraints and technical complexities, including a unique seismic retrofit, precise fitting of the program, and forensic paint analysis revealing a palette of lavender and metallic bronze.  The scope of the design encompasses the restoration of the exterior rotunda, lobbies, and the audience chamber and balcony, including new, wider seating and the restoration of the theatre’s decorative ceiling and walls, original chandeliers, and indoor waterfalls.  New mechanical, electrical, and theatre performance systems such as rigging, lighting, and audio/visual technology, were installed. 

Using a digital printing process, and based on a historic photograph, a new house curtain and grand drape valance were created in the style of the original. Lobby, box office, loading area, and public amenities were improved and expanded.  Enhancements also include an accurate recreation of the exterior blade sign, entry marquee, and storefronts, and the addition of an orchestra pit lift and orchestra side shell panels. The building’s structure was reinforced for seismic stability.


Centre City Development Corporation
San Diego, California

Gary J. Bosse, P.E.
Senior Project Manager, Construction

Eli Sanchez
Senior Project Manager

Theatre Operations:
San Diego Theatres
San Diego, California

Donald M. Telford
President, COO

Owner’s Representative:
Scottsdale, Arizona

Karen Neu O’Connor, Project Manager
Rick Pfannesteil, Principal
Laura Goodwin, Construction Manager

Architect, Mechanical/Electrical Engineer, Interior Designer, Theatre Technical Consultant:

Westlake Reed Leskosky
One East Camelback Road
Suite 690
Phoenix 85012-1668
602-212-0451 t
602-212-1020 f

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Paul E. Westlake, Jr., FAIA, Principal-in-Charge
Robert A. Mather, AIA, LEED AP, Associate Principal, Project Director
Richard Sourbrine, AIA, Associate, Project Director/Construction Administration
Matthew Jennings, Architect
Darrell R. Ziegler, ASTC, Associate, Theatre Specialist
Monica Green, AIA, CSI, CCS, LEED AP, Principal, Specifications
Fonda Hosta, NCIDQ Certified, Associate Principal, Interior Design
Roger Brevoort, Director of Historic Preservation
V. Mitchell Lyles, P.E., Principal, Mechanical Engineer
Robert J. Diez, PE., Associate Principal, Mechanical Engineer
Megan Gezze, Mechanical Engineer
David D. Woytek, Jr., Associate, Electrical Engineer
Joe Borzyn, P.E., Electrical Engineer
Jason Clausen, Electrical Designer/Construction Administration

Associate Architect, Preservation Consultant:
Heritage Architecture & Planning
625 Broadway, Suite 800
San Diego, California 92101
619-239-7888 t.
619-234-6286 f.

David Marshall, AIA, President
Curtis Drake, Architect

Interior designer
Westlake Reed Leskosky
Phoenix, Arizona

Fonda Hosta, NCIDQ Certified, Associate Principal, Interior Design

Mechanical/Electrical Engineer:
Westlake Reed Leskosky
Phoenix 85012-1668

V. Mitchell Lyles, P.E., Principal, Mechanical Engineer
Robert J. Diez, PE., Associate Principal, Mechanical Engineer

Megan Gezze, Mechanical Engineer

David D. Woytek, Jr., Associate, Electrical Engineer

Joe Borzyn, P.E., Electrical Engineer

Jason Clausen, Electrical Designer/Construction Administration

Structural Engineer:
Curry Price Court
San Diego, California

Tony Court, Structural Engineer

Civil Engineer:
Nasland Engineers
San Diego, California

Larry Thornburgh
Adam Podlich

Acoustical and AV Systems Consultant:
McKay Conant Hoover Inc
Westlake Village, California

Dave Conant
Robert Schmidt
Timothy Pearce

Scottsdale, Arizona
Randy Willis

Cost Estimators:
O’Connor Construction Management, Inc.
San Diego, California

Code Consultant:
Schirmer Engineering Corp.
San Diego, California

Garner A. Palenske, P.E., Vice President, Manager

Utility Coordination:
JMS Consulting
San Diego, CA

Jany Staley

Abatement Consultant:
Ninyo and Moore
San Diego, California

Brendan Phelan
Gerald Kwait

Ornamental Paint Analysis:
EverGreene Painting Studios Inc.
New York, New York

Jeff Greene

Theatre Seating:
Landry and Bogan
Mountain View, California

Jack Bogan

General contractor
General Contractor, Rehabilitation Phases:
PCL Construction Services
San Diego, California

Ankit Sanghvi, Project Manager

Jeff McDonald, Superintendent

Tiffany Whipple, Project Engineer

Nels Akerlund Photography
Rockford, Illinois

Existing and “before” photography courtesy of Heritage Architecture & Planning




Structural system
Window Restoration:
Restoration Works, Inc.
Kankakee, IL

Interior finishes
Resilient flooring:
Carpet: Ulster Carpet Mills, Marietta, GA

Fixed Seating:
Seating Concepts, LLC
San Diego, CA

Seat Fabric:
J.L. deBall, Inc.
New York, NY

Stage Lighting Fixtures:
Production Resources Group (PRG)
Sun Valley, CA

Historic Lighting Restoration:
Gibson and Gibson Antique Lighting
Chula Vista, CA

Specialty Lighting:
Alger International.
Culver City, CA

Add any additional building components or special equipment that made a significant contribution to this project:
Stage Drapery and Printed House Curtain:
I. Weiss
Long Island City, NY

Stage Rigging and Motorized Acoustic Drapery:
J.R. Clancy
Syracuse, NY

Frazee Paint
San Diego, CA

Theatrical Wiring Devices and Theater Dimming System:
Electronic Theater Controls (ETC)
Middleton, WI

3D Stage Lighting
San Diego, CA

Organ and Orchestra Pit Lifts:

AV Systems Supplier/Installer:
Los Angeles, CA