Debuting in 2011, Cal State Northridge's 1,700-seat Valley Performing Arts Center has become what its planners dreamed — a major cultural hub that attracts top-notch performers to an area once mocked as best known for porn culture. The Martha Graham Dance Company performed to a sellout crowd on its 89th birthday in April; this season, the Diavolo dance company and New West Symphony performed their North American premiere of L'Espace du Temps, while the Father and Son series will feature Bobby and Taylor McFerrin. Already a landmark, VPAC's pale, elegant soaring glass lobby fills early as guests head to a tapas bistro tucked into a rooftop terrace with views of the Santa Susana Mountains. Its award-winning otherworldly gardens, surrounded by a small woodland and airy support buildings, have been called a Dr. Seuss–scape. The grand hall is plush and accessible, poor seats are rare and, this being the San Fernando Valley, parking is a snap.
Credit: Jill Stewart