PJHM was privileged to attend the dedication ceremony of the new PHAME Theater at Patrick Henry High School. The San Diego Unified School District’s project broke ground in Fall of 2013 and was completed earlier this year. The PHAME (Patrick Henry Arts, Media, and Entertainment) Theater will provide state-of-the-art technology and equipment for student performances in the visual and performing arts and is part of a campus-wide renovation that includes a stadium overhaul and engineering academy complex. The Theater’s design won 2013 Members Choice Award from The American Institute of Architects for its use of local and recycled materials.
In 2008, the students in Patrick Henry’s Engineering Academy designed a new performing arts center for the high school as their class project. They reasoned that the archaic “cafetorium” with its small stage and folding partition was inadequate and outdated. The makeshift auditorium didn’t adequately allow important school assemblies and had extremely poor lighting and sound. They envisioned the new facility as a community asset with a lighting control room, a stage, an orchestra pit, dressing rooms, storage, seating, and a lobby, all in contemporary design. The students won an award for their project at the ACE mentoring competition in 2009. A model of the theater designed by the students was taken to several board meetings by parents. They argued effectively and a bond was passed that helped fund the PHAME project. The new PHAME Theater was built in honor of those students who dreamed of having a stage for which they could showcase their talents.
The 500-seat theater also boasts an 8,000-square-foot arts education space that wraps around half of the theater. The theater has many modern technologies, including state-of-the-art acoustic architecture and lighting but it is not entirely lacking in old theater feel. The CNC pattern of the PHAME’s proscenium was inspired by the old San Diego Pantages Theater. The attention to detail is apparent as you lift your gaze upward from the stage to the ceiling.