Our client, a private school in Connecticut, asked us to design a school Performing Arts Center adjacent to the existing upper school. The new 22,800 sq. ft. Performing Arts Center is the centerpiece of the school’s facility development campaign. The new design highlights our client’s commitment to provide exceptional progressive education grounded in the traditional disciplines of the arts and sciences.
One significant design challenge was to manage the scale of the proposed structure within its context; the school is located in a single family residential neighborhood. The guiding principle for the architectural design was to balance scale and program with the existing campus and the neighborhood.
Our solution was to centrally locate the main volume of the theater and its stage tower so that it can be screened by lower surrounding building elements to minimize perceived size. The building facades are all residentially scaled and detailed with horizontal siding materials to connect the new facility with the overall campus and the surrounding neighborhood. The arcades and recessed entrances further reduce apparent massing and reinforce the residential scale at important entrance and pedestrian circulation points.
The heart of the facility, a state-of-the art 450-seat theater, can handle large school events yet also feels intimate enough to comfortably accommodate smaller student productions. The main performance space is surrounded by many smaller support spaces including music practice rooms, rehearsal spaces, dressing rooms, set construction, storage and offices.
The foyer was designed as a flexible space that functions as the main entry, gallery space and connecting link between theater and practice wing. Natural light from a large skylight spills into the foyer, showcasing and celebrating the achievements of the students.
The building incorporates environmentally responsible design strategies including building orientation, natural daylighting, shading and management of solar heat gain.