A Masonry Masterpiece for Mesa Community College

The Mesa Community College Performing Arts Center is an acoustically fine-tuned masonry masterpiece featuring an inner and outer shell of sound reflective materials provided by Echelon Masonry. The center’s architecture was modeled on the creative re-purposing of cherished songs and a deep respect for the Sonoran Desert. The inner and outer shell of the center is comprised of a variety of masonry, chosen both for structure and finish. The interior transitions to the exterior shell were constructed with Echelon’s matching colored concrete blocks, featuring an integrated water repellant. The Amerimix mortar used to install the block also includes a water repellant. This combination allows the center to stand up to the baking sun and violent downpours that can be wreak havoc on a building’s exterior envelope.

A Symphony of masonry

The sound chamber was designed so that the Echelon Trendstone ground-face masonry units would strategically bump from the walls and serve as an excellent sound reflector. Along the side walls, the bumps change in size with larger bumps allowing for stronger early reflections that improve clarity and smaller bumps offering more diffuse reflections to enhance sound envelopment. The side walls were also scalloped in a series of convex curves to ensure sound waves are sprayed evenly throughout the audience chamber. This acoustic masonry shell has many jobs to accomplish: sound distribution, interior structure, a durable finish and a visually rich interior. The Trendstone’s density provided an excellent surface for the reflection of sound.


  • The exterior shell features graphics depicting the opening notes of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.
  • The college purchased the Harkins Movie Theatre, a vacant movie house built in 1979 and transformed it into the Performing Arts Center.
  • Moving north along the side walls, bumps change from a module of five masonry units wide by five units tall, all the way down to a single 8x8x16
  • The 44,000 sq. ft. multi-purpose facility opened in 2014 and features a 462-seat theatre, a full complement of classrooms, practice spaces, faculty offices, shops and a lobby.

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