Santa Rosa Junior College is breaking ground on $28 million renovation of the Luther Burbank Auditorium on the main campus.

The upgrades to the nearly 80-year-old building are the first major capital-improvement project funded by the $410 million Measure H bond approved by voters in November 2014 (, according to the district that oversees the college. The institution turns 100 this year.

The project renovates the interior of the 400-seat auditorium with improved sight lines and full Americans With Disability Act–compliant access. Improvements to back-of-house production spaces will include a renovated prop shop, full costume-production facility and two new classrooms. There will be a new “Studio Theater,” a multifunction space that will be used as a 200-seat teaching classroom, a black box theater and a movie theater.

The exterior of the building will be preserved, but the interior will be completely modern, allowing the theater faculty more flexibility in the types of programs they offer, according to the district. That includes professional overhead lighting and audio-visual equipment that students will find in the industry.

“This project is the culmination of many years of advocacy and vision, and we are thrilled to being so close to seeing the vision completed,” said Leslie McCauley, chairwoman of the Theater Arts Department, in a statement. “A modern theater will provide a foundation for our students to enter the workforce, but more importantly, we hope to provide our students with the confidence to pursue their dreams. Theater has a way of doing that.”

The project was designed by the award-winning firm Mark Cavagnero and Associates, with theater consulting by the Shalleck Group. Santa Rosa-based TLCD Architecture is executive architect for the project, and Wright Contracting also of Santa Rosa is the general contractor. Harris and Associates is construction manager.

“This extraordinary design will complement the work of our outstanding theater programs and will bring a new generation of theater lovers to the college,” said Frank Chong, college president and superintendent, in a statement. “We could not be more proud of the 100 year legacy of SRJC, and the renovated Burbank Theater will allow our students to share their incredible talent with the SRJC community for the next 100 years.”

Funds from the Measure H general-obligation bond are to pay for construction, rehabilitation or replacement of the college’s facilities. A groundbreaking ceremony for the auditorium project is set for Jan. 9 at 2 p.m.

SRJC is the 11th oldest of California’s 114 publicly funded two-year colleges and one of the largest. It has two campuses in Sonoma County: a 100-plus acre campus in Santa Rosa and a newer 40-acre campus in Petaluma. The college also runs a regional Public Safety Training Center in Windsor, 365-acre Shone Farm near Forestville, B. Robert Burdo Culinary Arts Center across from the Santa Rosa campus, and a southwest Santa Rosa teaching site.

The district employs about 3,000 , it is one of Sonoma County’s largest employers. The college is celebrating its 100 year anniversary throughout 2018.