Several arts leaders and Laguna Beach’s mayor took turns pulverizing a faux stone entry arch at the Festival of Arts this past Monday, Oct. 13, marking the start of a $3.5 million construction project on the city-owned land that since 1941 has been the permanent home to the city’s original art festival and Pageant of the Masters production.
The current façade was built of foam 15 years ago as a temporary structure that has weathered surprisingly well, Festival of Arts President Fred Sattler said. “We have done our best to modestly expand and ingeniously dress it up year after year with banners, planters, trim, columns, new fonts, and paint. But now, even the most aggressive cosmetic surgeons we could find have refused to work on it. They offered no hope, not one more year.”
In addition to replacing the foam and plywood facade, the project now includes a reoriented entrance into the grounds, an entrance canopy, a pedestrian promenade, seating elements and added landscaping, says the staff report on the project, which received City Council approval in August.
The new façade’s designer, Bauer architects of Newport Beach, recently received an award of merit in the un-built category for the project by the Orange County chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
“What we will be constructing is a beautiful, functional, more easily accessible and flexible gateway to the grounds that will be a community-wide asset here at this strategic location,” said Sattler, who pledged that a new, functional structure will be ready for by next spring. The arts organization financed the improvements, a decade in development, Sattler said.
Earlier, Sattler described the renovation as the first step in a broader beautification effort by city officials for the streetscape along Laguna Canyon that adjoins all three art festivals and the still-in-development village entrance.