Epstein Family Amphitheater

State-of-the-art performance venue provides a campus centerpiece for art, entertainment, and education

Completed in 2023, the Epstein Family Amphitheater at UC San Diego is a carefully designed year-round venue used by an eclectic variety of groups serving everything from prospective student tours to multi-act music festivals. Sat at the heart of UC San Diego, the architect had a very clear vision for the amphitheater. The shell was to be a sculptural element in its park-like setting. That required a clean design which precluded cluttering up the arch and shell with a lot of equipment such as truss, motors and lighting.

Accordingly, the venue consultants specified equipment that would not only perform well, it had to look good as well. Being integrated into the architecture meant the fixtures had to have the same high-quality design as the building itself. The fixtures needed to be low maintenance since access to the fixtures high up in the roof would be limited.

 A powerful variable-white wash light to light the stage which could vary in color temperature to match the sunlight at different times of day was a priority. The ability to color tune the fixtures to provide a familiar warm white at night was also crucial. Bright color changing wash fixtures were added to provide saturated color for simple events. Finally, a state-of-the-art moving light was utilized for the more dynamic shows.

 SGM was able to provide all three fixtures which gave the users a package that was easy to program, color match, and maintain since it all came from a single manufacturer.


"The SGM fixtures have a design that separates them from other fixtures. We were sent several fixtures to demo while we made our choices, and we could tell the SGM units were different as soon as they were unpacked. They felt more solid, more robust, and had a nicer look than many other fixtures."

Q&A - Project Manager Howard Glickman with Apiero Design    

The Epstein Center is an outdoor venue, very near to the coast of California. What were your primary concerns for fixture selection and how did SGM products address those concerns?

Being a year-round facility sitting close to the Pacific Ocean, the Epstein Family Amphitheater needed equipment that could withstand constant exposure to the harsh marine environment. The IP 66 rating, along with the active dehumidification and lack of any LED or LCD panels to leak, gave us the confidence we needed to specify the SGM fixtures where they would be exposed to sun, rain, fog and the salty sea air for years.


What was the best part of working with SGM?

The people of course. I had not worked with SGM before, and the team was very helpful in getting me up to speed. Whether it was sending me a sample kit of fixtures programmed and ready to demo at home during the pandemic lockdown or working with us on some customization, everyone I worked with at SGM wanted to help us make the project a success.


What is your favorite thing about how the project turned out?

I am very pleased at how were able to take the challenge posed by the Architect’s vision and turn it into something that gives this venue a unique look to its lighting design. I am also happy that I was able to become familiar with a product line and company that will help me on many future projects. There is a great demand for outdoor venues post-pandemic, and having a go-to source for robust and well-designed equipment that I can specify with confidence puts our clients at ease.


Were there any challenging installation details that you solved?

There were a few. Integrating all the power and data infrastructure into the complex roof design, while keeping it from imposing on the clean look and lines of the arch, was a challenge. So was making the fixtures that were designed for permanent installation removable. We wanted all the long-term weather resistance of the POI fixtures, but because this is a live event venue, we want the staff and designers to be able to change the light plot if they want. This meant adding connectors to all the leads. One thing we had not considered was the lack of pass-thru power and data on the POI fixtures, which made perfect sense once we realized it. The vendor, LVH Entertainment, was able to make watertight two-fers to solve this challenge.

Products used

42 x P-6 POI
10 x i-5 POI
33 x G-Spot Turbo POI
9 x G-Spot Turbo Std


Architect: Safdie Rabines

Venue Consultant: Aperio Design

Project Manager: Howard Glickman

Route to Market / Integrator: LVH Entertainment

Photographer: @UCSDAmphitheater (Anthony Tran)