The Tobin Center is lit up at night with palm trees and a dark blue sky.

Tobin Center for the Performing Arts

Beloved historic treasure transformed

Project Facts

Location San Antonio, Texas
Owner Bexar County Performing Arts Center Foundation
Size 183,000 SF
Status Completed 2014
Capacity 2000 seats


Constructed in the 1920s, the historic Tobin Center desperately needed a comprehensive overhaul. The primary objective was safeguarding its cherished historical features while elevating the venue’s acoustics to rival the world’s most prestigious concert halls. The resulting award-winning transformation achieved these goals and introduced groundbreaking innovations that offer flexibility in tailoring the ambiance and seating arrangements for each event, an exterior that captivates with its shimmer, and a state-of-the-art performance center experience.

Outside, the Tobin Center has tall palm trees and many stairs and lawn steps.

An orchestra performs to a packed crowd at the Tobin Center.

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About the project

When the city of San Antonio contemplated the renovation of its Nationally Registered Historic municipal auditorium into a modern performance center, they counted on Walter P Moore to leverage the power of integrated diagnostics-structural engineering. The Tobin Foundation’s vision for the restoration was to create a modern and versatile performance venue while respecting the historic façade of the primary entrance. Larger civic goals included broadening the range of cultural events available to the region’s citizens, engaging the adjacent riverwalk as another activity catalyst, and introducing children from various socio-economic backgrounds to the arts.

Beyond the historic façade, the condition and configuration of the old building’s interior required that it be replaced. The comprehensive transformation resulted in a 173,000 SF, four-level structure with full stage capabilities, including gridiron and catwalk, a 250-seat “black box” studio theater infinitely customizable for a range of uses, and a 600-seat outdoor plaza on the San Antonio Riverwalk featuring a video screen that simulcasts performances free to the public.

Tobin Center boasts the first U.S. installation of the Gala VenueTM adjustable floor configuration system, which provides 722 transformable seats with 21 Spiralifts for audience lifts and 88 total Spiralifts, enabling a 10-minute transformation of seats from underfloor storage to deployed and upright audience seating. The response of the owner and the community to the new center has been overwhelmingly positive. Tobin Center has once again become a treasured asset of the City of San Antonio.

During the day, the Tobin Center is busy with visitors on a cloudy day.


2013 Downtown Alliance San Antonio BEST work in Progress