The Lobero Theatre,
located in the historic Pueblo Viejo district of Santa Barbara, Calif., is the state’s oldest continuously operating theater and was designed by noted architect George Washington Smith, who is credited with bringing the Spanish Colonial Revival style to California. Operated by the Lobero Theatre Foundation, the facility relies on annual donations. Over the course of time, the theater has become in sore need of a rehabilitation.

Ciro Coelho
Before the Restoration
Before the Restoration
Before the Restoration
Ciro Coelho Before the Restoration

A re-envisioned lighting strategy by Anne Kale Associates has helped to transform the building. After the rehab, the Lobero has re-emerged as the architectural jewel that it is. The exterior façade, previously only illuminated by wall sconces and residual light trespass from parking lot fixtures across the street, is now artfully illuminated by custom light poles and pendants that were designed to match the building’s original wall sconces (which were restored) and new 2700K in-ground uplights. The new uplights are located in front of each of the entry portico’s columns, but positioned under the eave to meet the city’s Dark-Sky Ordinance. These uplights are only lit on performance nights.

Ciro Coelho
Ciro Coelho


The foundation did not feel it appropriate to add new fixtures to the interior of the landmarked building, so Kale had to find a way to incorporate new equipment into the existing house lighting elements: a single chandelier and 10 wall sconces. Long-life, miniature xenon uplights, selected during a mock-up for their superior color and continuous dimming, were installed on top of the existing chandelier and highlight the painted coffered ceiling. The chandelier itself was relamped with 40 A15 frosted lamps. The wall sconces were modified to remove the center arm to make way for an MR16 up-downlight, which is concealed behind a new decorative shield. These sconces illuminate the columns and the perimeter ceiling.

Ciro Coelho

A tight budget, and an extensive review process did not deter the design team in creating a creative lighting solution, the result of which is a stunning second act for the historic Lobero Theatre.

Details 

Project: Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara, Calif. 

• Client: Lobero Theatre Foundation, Santa Barbara • Architect: KBZ Architects, Santa Barbara • Lighting Designer: Ann Kale Associates, Santa Barbara • Team Members: Ann Kale, Jacquelyn Cacan • Photographer: Ciro Coelho, Santa Barbara • Project Size: 7,700 square feet (interior) plus 3/4 acre (exterior) • Project Cost: $3.8 million • Lighting Cost: Withheld • Watts per Square Foot: 1.5 • Code Compliance: Title 24-2010 • Manufacturers: Acuity Brands/Winona Lighting, Auroralight, Bega, B-K Lighting and Teka Illumination, Ironcad Ltd., Tokistar

Jury Comments

• The “before” and “after” is striking. • The new lighting respects the architecture. • The design pays careful attention to detail and the user experience.

Ciro Coelho