Concept: Flexible Configuration
“Flexible space is very attractive. It allows dynamism for the artistic community….The idea of flexible space is very exciting. It works for many organizations and events….We need a performance space, but also a creation space.” –Jason Lambert, Thornton Wilder Center for the Arts Advisory Committee
Keene-based Scully/Architects, in collaboration with Nextstage Design, based in New Haven, CT, has provided a preliminary design for Thornton Wilder Center for the Arts, based on the concept of flexible space.
The proposed 17,100 SF design is a two-level plan in which the lobby extends from the current school entrance corridor at the existing floor level. From within the theatre one can look down to a lower level, which has a large open space to provide maximum flexibility.
From the ConVal High School entrance level, the Void site slopes down 18 feet. The conceptual design takes advantage of this elevation change from front to rear of site to accommodate an entry-level lobby and upper seating level, and a stage-level loading dock.
The flexible space concept provides a flat main floor, with comfortable seats on a high-quality, inclined retractable seating unit, excellent acoustics, and technical equipment for music, theatre, dance.
This adaptable space provides the flexibility for a range of performance types, from intimate folk or classical concerts, to theatre in the round, to a 400-seat concert hall with stage able to accommodate large chorus, concert band, dance, and musical theatre productions. The conceptual design includes a control room, sized and equipped to provide teaching opportunities, and a powerful projector for film presentations. The design also includes a technical grid over the entire room, which provides access to completely flexible lighting design in the safest way possible.
The facility will also offer backstage space and wings, a green room for actors to relax and prepare, dressing rooms, rest rooms, a loading dock, and direct access for musicians to easily carry their instruments from their existing rehearsal classroom to the hall. None of these amenities currently exist in ConVal High School’s facilities.
The calculated cost estimate for this 17,100 square feet concept design, with its largest configuration achieving a maximum of ~400 seats for concert hall or musical production, is $6,500,000 without escalation, equating to a cost per square foot of $380.
The preliminary estimated cost with escalation & fees is $8,000,000.
Construction estimates developed by Scully Architects/Nextstage Design were achieved by three methodologies: rule of thumb; comparison to similar projects; and a detailed, bottom-up development of a project budget. All three methods yielded similar estimates, giving high confidence that the estimations are on target.
Funding for the arts center will be separate from public funding. A capital campaign is planned for 2019 to raise funds through philanthropy and foundation grants.
Pictured here, from left to right: Dick Sanders, Bob Edwards, John Halper, Rob Eichler, Gloria Schultz, Krystal Morin, Dave Drasba, Martha Eichler, Liz Halper, Dan Scully, Jim Wickham and Tony Forman.