Royce Hall

Royce Hall
Address 340 Royce Drive
Los Angeles, California
United States
Coordinates 34°4′22″N 118°26′31″W / 34.07278°N 118.44194°W / 34.07278; -118.44194Coordinates: 34°4′22″N 118°26′31″W / 34.07278°N 118.44194°W / 34.07278; -118.44194
Owner University of California, Los Angeles
Operator University of California, Los Angeles
Type Performing arts center
Capacity 1,800
Opened 1929 (1929)
Architect Allison & Allison
Auditorium during the Seismic Renovation, 1995
Auditorium, 1998
Auditorium: 1929, 1984 and 1998
The console of the Royce Hall pipe organ
Royce Hall at night

Royce Hall is a building on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Originally designed by the Los Angeles firm of Allison & Allison (James Edward Allison, 1870-1955, and his brother David Clark Allison, 1881-1962) and completed in 1929, it is one of the four original buildings on UCLA's Westwood campus and has come to be the defining image of the university.[1] The brick and tile building is in the Lombard Romanesque style, and once functioned as the main classroom facility of the university and symbolized its academic and cultural aspirations. Today, the twin-towered front remains the best known UCLA landmark. The 1800-seat auditorium was designed for speech acoustics and not for music; by 1982 it emerged from successive remodelings as a regionally important concert hall and main performing arts facility of the university.

Named after Josiah Royce, a California-born philosopher who received his bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley in 1875, the building's exterior is composed of elements borrowed from numerous northern Italian sources.[1] While very different in their composition and near-symmetry, the two towers of Royce make an abstract reference to those of the famous Abbey Church of Sant'Ambrogio in Milan.[1]


Severely damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Royce Hall underwent a $70.5 million seismic renovation designed by Barton Phelps & Associates (Barton Phelps, FAIA, 1946 -) and Anshen + Allen Los Angeles and completed in 1998. This program of extensive structural strengthening, functional improvements, and conservation work essentially inserted a new building within the old. The towers verged on collapse and were strengthened and restored on an emergency basis. The project for the rest of the 200,000 square foot building accommodated a new structural system of six-story, concrete shear panels located around the "big box" of the auditorium and connected by concrete beams to the building's historic exterior brickwork. Royce Hall's eligibility for National Register listing prompted FEMA earthquake resistance requirements beyond normal life / safety levels and triggered close design scrutiny by federal and state preservation officers. The new "soft" structure responds in unison with original masonry infill panels to provide sufficient lateral resistance to protect the building's historic fabric from damage.[2]


The sidewalls of the auditorium were reconfigured to hold foot-thick concrete shear panels the volume of which could have lessened its reverberant character. New wall openings, cut into abandoned rooftop areaways, are enclosed by new structure to form operable acoustic galleries allow variable acoustic responses. Along with new ceiling coves, the galleries increase the volume of the hall by 40,000 cubic feet and lengthen its reverberation period by over a second at their maximum setting. Skylights in the gallery restore natural light to the spectacular coffered ceiling, now for the first time, brightly illuminated. Unlike the former plaster interior, the new walls are clad in brick and terra cotta identical to that on the original exterior of the building. The uneven texture of projecting blocks improves sound diffusion. Its pattern is abstracted from Lombard Romanesque motifs in Lucca and other cities in the valley of the Po River in northern Italy.[2]

The hall, post renovation, covered 191,547 square feet (17,795.3 m2).[3]


In 1936, University of California President Robert Gordon Sproul appointed a committee to oversee programming and in 1937, Royce Hall's first performing arts season was born. The first subscription series included the great contralto Marian Anderson, the Budapest String Quartet, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In addition its world-renowned acoustics, the monument is a must-see for anyone who visits UCLA, especially because of its asymmetrical features.

The hall contains a 6,600-pipe E.M. Skinner pipe organ, renovated and expanded in 1999 by Robert Turner. During the 1930s, Salt Lake Tabernacle organist Alexander Schreiner gave public recitals three times a week on the instrument. The organ was later featured in several recording sessions of the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta.[4] It serves as one of the home venues for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Luminaries who have appeared on its stage include musicians George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, and Ella Fitzgerald,[5] and speakers Albert Einstein and John F. Kennedy.

In 1960, Henri Temianka founded and conducted his "Let's Talk Music" series at Royce Hall; this orchestra became the California Chamber Symphony (CCS), which gave more than 100 concerts over the ensuing 23 years, including premieres of major works by such composers as Aaron Copland, Dmitri Shostakovich, Darius Milhaud, Alberto Ginastera, Gian-Carlo Menotti and Malcolm Arnold. Soloists who performed with the CCS under Temianka's direction included David Oistrakh, Jean-Pierre Rampal and Benny Goodman. A "Concerts for Youth" series included participation by children from the audience.

In 1985, Patrick Stewart performed a demonstration of various plays at Royce Hall to aid a friend who was a member of the faculty. During this performance, television producer Robert Justman sat in attendance. Watching Stewart convinced him immediately that he was the right actor to portray Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

In 2012, the hall installed a new $128,000 Steinway concert grand piano. Nicknamed "Sapphire" by the staff, the piano has already been used as the centerpiece of a $25,000-per-plate fundraising dinner to support emerging artists.[6]

Parts of the film The Nutty Professor were filmed in Royce Hall.[7]

Presentation of the annual Los Angeles Times book prizes are made during the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in association with UCLA in Royce Hall.

In Noah Hawley's 2012 novel The Good Father, a Presidential candidate is assassinated during a speech in Royce Hall.

For many years, Royce Hall has been the venue of choice for various culture nights produced by cultural student organizations on campus, including Vietnamese Culture Night (VCN), Samahang Pilipino Cultural Night (SPCN), Chinese American Culture Night (CACN), and Korean Culture Night (KCN), among others.[8][9][10][11]

In 2014, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered the Luskin Lecture for Thought Leadership at Royce Hall.[12]


  1. 1 2 3 UCRegents (1998). "Welcome Home to Royce Hall". UCLAToday. Archived from the original on 2006-12-30. Retrieved 2007-04-18.
  2. 1 2 Project Diary:Royce Hall,University of California, Los Angeles"|author=Thomas Hine|date=1999-11-1|work=Architectural Record (ISSN 0003-858X)November 1998. Vol. 186, No.11.
  3. UCLA Capital Programs. "Royce Hall Seismic Renovation". Master Project List. Retrieved 2007-04-18.
  4. Henken, John (1999-11-14). "Royce Hall's Pipe Dream Comes True". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-06-09. After being damaged in the Northridge quake, the venue's renovated 1930 organ will return with the UCLA Philharmonia.
  5. Sefton, David. "Director's Welcome, Royce Hall". UCLA Live. Archived from the original on 2007-04-02. Retrieved 2007-04-25.
  6. Groves, Martha (December 18, 2012). "Royce Hall's quest for a big-sounding piano ends on a high note". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
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