"The Circus Conservatory of America (CCA) is a new institution established to train and educate students in the performing and circus arts. The CCA, which is based out of Portland, Maine, will be the first accredited institution of circus arts in the United States. The brief calls for a hybrid building, which houses both academic spaces, as well as a circular performance venue planned to a capacity of 500.
Historically, the circus floor was shaped by the circumference made by walking a horse on a tether. This method defined a circular space for a radially distributed audience persists today in contemporary circus. For the CCA building, the addition of educational programs challenges the circus typology and produces a new building type. The hybrid design proposal for the new CCA, incorporates acrobatics, performance and classroom programs in a single structure and utilizes the radial viewing strategy of the original circus typology to activate the educational community and to engage with the public, the city, the landscape and each other.
Several large acrobatic training halls, with transparent ends act as ""viewing devices"" arranged radially and inscribed within the circular plan. These provide dramatic views out across the water of the adjacent peninsula, as well as inward, towards the conservatory community.
By lifting the building up, the CCA creates a sense of weightlessness, and provides a covered area for outdoor performances. The building entrance is introduced in the center of the courtyard, which is rendered accessible by the lifted portion of the ring structure.
The new CCA building will provide a home for a new type of educational institution, and create an iconic building at a gateway into Portland by using a dramatic structural logic that mimics the acrobatic maneuvers of the students within."