Building Description Spreckels Theater Building, San Diego California
This 6-story office and theatre building reflects similar construction and composition of commercial structures built throughout the United States in the early part of the 20th century. The influence of the "Chicago School" is quite evident in this building with its strong rhythm of structural bays and openings which become mere panels between the vertical and horizontal members. The building also follows the compositional lines of tall buildings as exemplified in the works of Louis Sullivan.
The Spreckles building contains similar elements found in Chicago's Auditorium Building, designed by Adler and Sullivan in 1887-89, a noteworthy example of a multifunction building. As in the Chicago example, the Spreckles Theatre is enveloped within the main structure of the building, but is a separate formal and functional entity.
The beautiful Baroque theater is especially noteworthy. Its space is unencumbered by pillars or columns which would interfere with the lines of sight. The auditorium measures 88' x 76' with a stage of 88' x 52'. The seating capacity was 1915, specified by John D. Spreckles to his architect, Harrison Albright, to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal and the upcoming Pam-American Exposition of 1915. The orchestra had 768 seats, the balcony 428, the family circle 294, and the gallery 425. All parts of the theatre, including balconies have separate exits into the streets, independent of the office spaces. All exits were within 18' of each 100 people in the theatre. The building was provided with the ultimate in mechanical equipment for heating and ventilating. Fireproofing was given careful attention. Not only was the theatre functionally independent of the rest of the building, but also was separated by heavy concrete fireproof walls. A heavy steel and asbestos curtain separated any stage fires from the rest of the building.
The decorative motifs of the building are in the Baroque style. Allegorical painting, over the proscenium arch depicts Neptune bringing prosperity to San Diego. Paintings also exist in the main auditorium, ceiling with a large medallion depicting dawn and four smaller medallions with motifs of "air", "water", "earth", and "fire", executed by Emil T. Mazy of Los Angeles Pedrora onyx was used in finishing the walls, ceillngs, stairways and lobby. The auditorium was resplendent with marble statuary, intricate carvings (all in ivory and gold) and crystal chandeliers.
The building was constructed of a steel reinforced concrete frame with concrete panel infills and concrete slab floors.
There are 8" clay tile walls within the office building. The building was designed to be fireproof and earthquake proof, in accordance with engineering practices of the period.