The Wheeler School on College Hill is an independent pre-K through Grade 12 school with a strong tradition in the performing and visual arts. ABA’s design for the Gilder Center for the Arts gathers the school’s arts-related programs into a single 35,000-sf facility. Neoclassical Wheeler Hall, one of the first campus buildings, was renovated to house fine arts studios and a black box theater. Designed with a flexible, demountable platform system, the 175-seat theater is supported by a new reception area, a rehearsal studio, dressing rooms, costume storage, and a scene shop. A new building next to Wheeler Hall provides six music classrooms, a recording studio, practice rooms, and a 400-seat stepped assembly space. The buildings are joined by an interior street that creates a new north/south campus connection.
A contemporary design, the Gilder Center balances the scale, material, and massing of Wheeler Hall, creating a dynamic new focus on the south edge of the campus, both for the school and the community. This is ABA’s third building designed for The Wheeler School campus, the outcome of ABA’s 2007 Campus Master Plan.
The Gilder Center for the Arts received an architectural design award from AIA Rhode Island and a lighting design award from the Illuminating Engineering Society.