Rounds is the winning design for the 2016 Ragdale Ring international design-build competition and the recipient of the Adrian Smith Prize. The project is a temporary performance pavilion for the Ragdale Foundation, an artist colony 30 miles north of Chicago in the community of Lake Forest, Illinois. Departing from the convention of the bandshell structure and stage most commonly deployed in this setting, Rounds establishes a whimsical and inhabitable performance surface. The project considers the way in which one engages the space of performance and intends to allow the surface itself to become integral to that experience, while also producing an atmosphere of playful discovery for visitors, performers, and artist residents.
Through a multiplicity of surface undulation types and sizes, Rounds encourages a multiplicity of performer to audience relationships, performance types, stage arrangements, and seating options, generating a versatile outdoor venue and a fully encompassing experience. Small-scale undulations in the ring surface act as a lounge spaces for viewers during performances, or artists to contemplate their work during non-performance times. Mid-scale undulations in the surface provide entrances to the inner space of the ring, while also providing smaller scale protected stage areas. The largest undulation is designed for the main stage area, a stage that can be broken down into smaller parts and distributed around the ring for several concurrent performances.
The project is constructed of 48 gridded structural wedges made of 3/4”plywood and clad in 3/8” bendable plywood. The finish is a mint green stucco, allowing the ring to develop a whimsical and low-contrast relationship with the landscape. The thickness of the finish provides for seamless and monolithic look to the surface, while the texture reinforces the project’s attitude of playful discovery.