About the ProjecT

Building description

The San Mateo Performing Arts Center is the largest theatre between San Francisco and Cupertino. The building underwent reconstruction and renovation of its 1,540-seat theatre into a modernized and energy efficient three-storey facility that accommodates students, faculty and community performances.

Unique Design Challenges

The challenges in this project were twofold:

  • Integrating displacement ventilation into an existing building.
  • Achieving comfortable temperatures on the balcony level in a thermally stratified (DV) system.

Our Solution

Created a CFD model of the baseline design to assess its performance. Results showed warm temperatures in the top five rows of the balcony. Diffusers from the lower level were moved to the top of the balcony level to redistribute cooling capacity.


A cost- and energy-neutral change to the design that resulted in comfortable temperatures throughout the entire space, including the very top of the balcony seating section. The engineer has had zero call-backs on this project since its completion in 2013.

San Mateo, CA | 2013

Engineer: Costa Engineers Inc

Architect: Quattrocchi Kwok Architects

Price Rep: Norman S. Wright

Scope of work: Theatre (without stage)

HVAC system: Displacement ventilation

Awards: 2019 Honor Award – CASH/AIACC Leroy F. Green Design Awards