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Shrine Auditorium | HVAC System

The Shrine Auditorium is a landmark large-event venue in Los Angeles, California. The largest theatre in Los Angeles, seating approximately 6,300 people, the Downtown LA cultural staple features a massive stage (at 194 feet in width and 69 feet in depth) that has housed both events, like the Academy Awards, and iconic concerts that include the likes of Elvis Presley and more contemporary artists like Radiohead. Originally constructed in the 1920’s—even featured in the original 1933 “King Kong” film—the event space was known for extraordinary acts throughout the decades. However, in time, the facility was in serious need of some 21st-Century improvements to give the historic space the polish it truly needed to shine brilliantly once again.

Recognizing this, a comprehensive rehabilitation & renovation initiative was slated for the Shrine Auditorium—aiming to upgrade the stage with state-of-the-art lighting systems and to elevate the audience experience with dramatic improvements in the facility’s physical environment, including a redesigned HVAC system. California Energy Designs served as the mechanical design engineer for the new HVAC system, modernizing the complex & dynamic airflow systems of this Moroccan-inspired architectural landmark. Officially designated as a “Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument” (No. 139) in 1975, such work required careful planning and innovative engineering in order to meet the varied needs of a multi-purpose commercial facility like Shrine, while remaining within the strict regulatory guidelines of such monuments.

Working within the constraints allotted for a designated landmark can be challenging enough, but when paired with the venue’s expansive offerings in event type—from rock concerts & award ceremonies to conferences, conventions, and trade shows—such constraints require an even greater level of creativity and engineering expertise. Meeting the cooling needs of a space that can go from being packed with people—and thus body heat—dancing their hearts out under bright stage-lights to a sporadic spattering of business executives—sauntering as they network—at a small trade show requires dynamic adjustment and strict system capacity expertise.

Accomplishing this with comprehensive airflow design that cannot meaningfully alter the structural integrity of a building built before even the most basic of refridgerants—Freon—was invented, required our team at California Energy Designs to implement a series of highly-imaginative, specific changes in the existing system architecture to turn restrictions into opportunity. The venue utilized a large under-floor supply system with 100% fresh air and 100% exhaust. Within this framework, our team physically reversed the two 100,000 CFM supply fans, turning the under-floor supply plenum into a return. This prevented any need for an invasive renovation process, preserving the structural integrity of the unique facility.

After the hugely-successful renovation program was complete, both event-goers and leading acts were highly complimentary of the changes in both physical & performance-space environments, with even ticket-vendor StubHub covering the auditorium’s new air conditioning system in it’s featured biography.



Date Completed:
Shrine Auditorium
Mechanical Engineer:
California Energy Designs
Specific Role:
HVAC Design Engineer
Project Type:
Auditoriums, Event Venues, & Concert Halls
Los Angeles, CA (Landmark No. 139)
Project Size:
54,000 Sq. Ft.
Shrine Auditorium