UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion Renovation Marries Innovation With History

Despite the few homey touches UCLA added to its temporary home, the Los Angeles Sports Arena could never quite take the place of historic Pauley Pavilion for the student-athletes or their fans. In October, after 33 months of renovation, the Bruins returned to campus to find a state-of-the-art, multipurpose facility that retained the spirit and familiarity of Pauley.

Pauley Pavilion opened in 1965 and, over the course of its 48-year history, set the stage for UCLA greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton, not to mention legendary coach John Wooden. (In addition to basketball, the venue also hosts women’s volleyball, gymnastics, graduations, concerts, political debates, and more.) However, in the past 15 years, Pauley began to show its age.

“It was never an unsafe venue for us at all,” says Ken Weiner, senior associate athletic director, UCLA, “but we did want to make sure that we were addressing ADA upgrades that were available, any seismic upgrades that we could do to the building, and, maybe more important, address all the creature comforts for our patrons and for our basketball team.”

Rather than demolish and replace Pauley Pavilion, UCLA opted for renovation, breaking ground on the project in May 2010. The first phase of the project, which lasted just over a year, focused on the exterior of the building. Prior to phase two, UCLA’s basketball teams moved to the Sports Arena, and the interior of the building was gutted.

The university tapped Daktronics to design and manufacture a center-hung display, which features four 12- x 16-ft. 10-mm displays with a 2- x 27-ft. digital ring display. UCLA can broadcast one large image to each display or divide the displays into separate windows. In addition to live video, the center-hung structure includes areas for static branding and sponsorship.

A 360-degree ribbon display measuring nearly 3 ft. tall surrounds the arena, providing UCLA with an area to showcase sponsors, fan prompts, and other information. The project also included corner scoring displays.

To support the various video elements, UCLA built an entirely new video-control room.

“We didn’t have necessarily a ‘control room’ before,” notes Weiner. “We ran our video out of one place, we ran our audio out of another place, we ran our lights out of another place, so we were all over the place. We took an opportunity with the new Pavilion to aggregate everything into one room, which is our control room, that has a sightline to the interior of the stadium so [the production team] can get a pulse for what’s going on inside. It’s a full production room where the producer and director can run the whole show from a single point.”

In addition to the new displays and control room, UCLA increased Pauley Pavilion’s capacity from 12,800 to 13,800. New aisles, steps, handrails, and restrooms were added, and the men’s and women’s locker rooms were moved downstairs (visiting teams will now occupy the teams’ old court-level locker rooms). The Bruins now have a players’ lounge and 24-seat video room at their disposal.

It may look like a brand-new venue, but, for UCLA men’s and women’s basketball programs and their fans, it’s home.