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$61 Million Arts Village at Irvine Valley College Opens Its Doors

Updated: Apr 2

An artist rendering of the interior of the Visual Arts building in the new Arts Village at Irvine Valley College. Image courtesy of Irvine Valley College/DLR Group

Irvine Valley College dance student Nathan Waters used to struggle to find space to practice on campus. He remembers rehearsing outside, using the reflective surface of the Performing Arts Center as a mirror. 

Arts students like Waters now have a revamped experience with a $61 million arts complex that opened last month. The Arts Village boasts three buildings spanning 62,471 square feet, centered around a spacious courtyard. The complex is adjacent to the existing Performing Arts Center, with specialized facilities for music and dance, visual arts and fine arts, and serves as the permanent home for IVC’s School of the Arts. 

Waters, 19, is able to enjoy the new facilities this semester before transferring to a four-year university this fall.

“I’m a little jealous I have to leave,” he said. “All these nice spaces to dance in, and we have an open studio now to choreograph and collaborate. It builds a better sense of community.”

The college will hold a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony from 4-6 p.m. on April 3. All three buildings will be fully functional, with the exception of the interactive media (virtual reality) and digital media studios, which will be open for the fall semester.

Constructed with sustainability in mind, the facilities feature a striking, modern façade built by McCarthy Building Companies and designed by DLR Group. The project was funded by the South Orange County Community College District and the state of California.

The modern facades of the Arts Village complement each other with entryways opening out into a central courtyard. Photo courtesy of Irvine Valley College

The planning process began five years ago, and construction took about three years. Construction cost $45 million, while the remaining $16 million was spent on equipment, permitting fees and a $1.2 million purchase of 12 upright and seven Steinway and Sons grand pianos. Used by the best musicians in the world, the pianos were specially selected and shipped from New York.

“Students have the opportunity to practice on Steinways, which they normally wouldn’t be able to unless they had really affluent parents,” said music professor Susan Boettger, who has taught at IVC for 15 years. “We can now say we are an all-Steinway school.”

Boettger is a Juilliard graduate and also serves as director of keyboard studies and artistic director of the IVC Piano and Chamber Music series. She runs the nonprofit Junior Chamber Music and founded the after-school program Lyceum Village. Other notable faculty at IVC’s School of the Arts include music department chair Matthew Tresler, who was part of the Grammy-winning Conspirare Choir, based in Austin. 

The school’s investment in the arts has attracted attention from international students and professional pianists. Current students can have a recital experience every week with the addition of a 150-person small amphitheater; the college has also added a new chamber music course, says Boettger. 

The new 150-seat amphitheater at the Arts Village. It doubles as a lecture space. Photo courtesy of Irvine Valley College

“It's changing the whole perception of coming to community college classes,” Boettger said of the new complex.

The largest and most impressive building is Music and Dance, with 32,549 square feet of classrooms and labs, private practice rooms, a music library and two dance studios.

“There is not a single normal regular classroom in the arts village – it’s all custom-made,” said IVC dean of the arts Joe Poshek. “We all sat down together with professors from every single discipline and asked them what they wanted.”

The first dance studio has floor-to-ceiling windows visible to the public, with large wrap-around curtains for privacy if needed and also to cover mirrors for certain exercises. The second studio is an aerial dance room with five mounting points that doubles as a fully-equipped performance space.

Down “Thunder Alley,” music students with a keycard can practice in nearly a dozen rehearsal rooms on a first-come, first-served basis.

The jewel of the facility is an elegant instrumental hall that also doubles as a 150-seat recital space and amphitheater.

“The whole idea of an arts village is so students can collaborate, so there’s gathering spaces throughout the buildings,” Poshek said.

Floor-to-ceiling glass windows in each building allows passerbys to peek into the colorful motifs of the interior. Photo courtesy of Irvine Valley College

Conference rooms feature tables made of whiteboard material so students can draw and communicate directly on the surface. Communal areas are dotted with individual lounges, portable desks and cork boards along the walls for students to create and collaborate.

A student art gallery complete with climate control and lighting rounds out the first facility.

The second Visual Arts building spans 20,617 square feet, houses classrooms and labs specifically designed for painting, drawing and sculpture. The brand-new ceramics studio has 24 pottery wheels and a laminator, and thoughtful touches like individual cubbies for students to protect their work before firing.

The interior color scheme is more muted in contrast to Music and Dance, so students can pin up their art on the walls in the hallways and focus on their pieces.

“Each room really reflects the personalities of the instructors,” Poshek said. “The painting room is more free flowing, whereas the sculpture space is more orderly.”

The third Fine Arts and Gallery building measures 8,685 square feet and features an art gallery and a lecture/recital hall that will be used for art exhibitions, lectures and student shows.

PHOTO 1: Interior of the painting classroom designed by IVC faculty. PHOTO 2: 24 new pottery wheels are a highlight of the new ceramics studio. PHOTO 3: One of the three 3-D printers available for student use in the new Visual Arts building. Photos by Ivy Dai, Culture OC


Before the construction of the Arts Village, students like Sabrina Campaña took dance classes in multi-purpose rooms shared with the kinesiology, pilates and physical education departments. 

Campaña, 23, attended IVC as an undergraduate and has returned to take choreography, jazz and ballet courses to prepare for her master’s program.

“It feels like a bigger four-year university,” she said. It’s really nice to have this wing all to ourselves with multiple rehearsal spaces and dressing rooms.”

Modern and jazz dance instructor Teresa Jankovic said the new facilities have elevated the status of the arts on campus.

“It feels like home now,” she said. “It's nice to walk outside and hear classical music playing; it feels like a conservatory.”


For a list of upcoming performances at Irvine Valley College’s Performing Arts Center and Arts Village and to purchase tickets, visit 



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