Balboa Theatre

Downtown San Diego, CA

San Diego’s Balboa Theatre was constructed in 1926 as a 1,500 seat vaudeville theater in the center of downtown. The six-story reinforced concrete frame with hollow-clay infill structure also contained 40 offices. Listed on the National Register for Historic Places, the theater was spared from demolition and purchased by the Centre City Development Corporation, later known as Civic San Diego.

Heritage Architecture & Planning prepared a feasibility study, structural analysis, adaptive reuse plan and cost estimates in 1990. We later completed work as the associate architect and preservation consultant for the seismic retrofit and rehabilitation of the theater. This five-year restoration effort returned the theater to its original splendor, complete with restored ornamental plaster, replicated marquee and blade sign, and thousands of square feet of vibrant decorative painting. The award-winning $26.5 million restoration, completed in 2008, created a vital performance venue for dozens of non-profit arts groups as well as A-list performers.

Photography: Brady Architectural Photography


  • Civic San Diego
    • Seismic Retrofit Analysis
    • Adaptive Reuse Plan
    • Restoration Consultation
    • Feasibility Study
    • Construction Observation
  • 2008
    • ♢AIA California Council Merit
    • ♢AIA Western Mountain Region Merit
    • ♢AIA Ohio Honor
    • ♢California Preservation Foundation (CPF)
    • ♢Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO)
    • ♢San Diego Historical Resources Board (HRB)
    • ♢Best of San Diego 2008/ Urban Restoration/ San Diego Magazine
    • ♢Reconstruction and Renovation Awards Platinum/ Building Design + Construction
    • ♢American Public Works Association Project of the Year Award (SD Chapter)
    • ♢San Diego Orchid Award