Part 2 of 2: Putting the all in Hall, Audience Connections Final!

Ron_spigelman_3Welcome to The Underground!

What really surprised me about this concept is something that inadvertently came up during the final presentation.  This Hall might actually provide a solution for saving money whilst working in concert with the environment, the community and the audience!…..Here is my summary and grading of Paper # 2:

Ellie Swogger (underneath!) and Amy McGeehee

Sd530344 (excerpt)The Underground is our solution to our assignment to design a performing arts center.  It is a center that addresses many issues including functionality, multi purpose, response to surroundings and community need, and artistic and unique design.  Our goal was to create a space that was not only for the arts, but part of the arts and, yet, did not sacrifice efficiency in serving its first purpose- a center for performance.  Through a new and innovative approach to catering to different audience members, we aimed to generally grow our audience and patrons of the arts by providing alternatives, if so desired, to the traditional audience experience.  We did this in a number of ways, not taking into account matters of acoustics and other technical elements of a performing hall beyond the limitations of our knowledge.  As a result, some of these ideas may be somewhat unlikely, but we aim more at the concept of an alternative performing arts center than a concrete solution to this notion.
Our foremost concern for our hall was the issue of the untraditional arts patron.  That is, not your typical “strictly silent, sit up straight in your chair, listen intently without distraction” audience member.  We wanted to make the theater a place for the squirmy, sleepy, “my wife/mom dragged me to this show” audience.  So we created a theater with a performance hall of many levels and areas. 
To address the most unique feature and the one for which it got its title of The Underground, our performance hall is located 90% below ground level.

Sd530353_2 I’m no architect or engineer, but without having to build a free standing structure with prohibitive rendering and glass costs, but instead building into the side of a hill or excavating, would it not save money?  Would utilities not be cheaper also?  Further to this, by creating green space in place of the structure you would add enormous use possibilities whilst being environmental and community minded! This is certainly a unique concept which becomes even more so when examined in more detail.

(excerpt)An over bearing structure like a performance hall was not our best option and we wanted the main theater and stage to be located below the ground, allowing the space in the main level to revolve around activities and events, and not worry itself with housing a stage.

This is truly an attempt at conceptualizing a dual space completely separate from one another but still with the ability to collaborate if the needed to.  The intimidation factor of a huge stage house towering over you is not there.  I am thinking of the halls I have worked in, Bass Hall in Fort Worth, The Meyerson in Dallas, Kleinhans in Buffalo.  It is quite clear that those halls are really there for a single purpose, and anything ancillary such as an eatery or a store, is geared for pre and/or post concert and is closed most other times.  This hall concept attempts to change that.  The worry that people wont find it because it is not an enormous structure is unfounded.  They seem to not be able to find them after the new wears off even when they are enormous!

The entrance as you can see above is an open area.  A glass elevator will transport patrons, and we discussed the addition of adding a second glass elevator that takes a slow route with the shaft acting as a vertical art exhibit.  One level below the above ground structure is a library/study area right behind the main stage.  This is to cater for the casual listener who can hear the concert, but who might want to work or read at the same time.

Sd530350 This is the banquet room and bar:

(excerpt)for themed dinners that correspond to the current event/play/concert etc.  For example, during a production of Alice in Wonderland, a “tea party” might be planned, enhancing the experience.

Their concept for seating is innovative.  Because they have included a cafe with plexiglass panels that if moved will allow for listening, along with luxury boxes (like at sporting events again with movable panels), an enclosed family box and the aforementioned library (they suggest for teenagers for example), they would use less "traditional" seating.  Like for paper # 1: Centro, they will offer more leg room emphasizing comfort.

Sd530354 This is the "kids corner": (excerpt) which consists of a large room made of marker board and chalkboard walls that is much like nursery.  Young audience members can go here and take their pick of sitting at the plexiglass glass and enjoying the show from a more free atmosphere, or creating art inspired by what they hear coming from the speakers in the room; either way, they are affected and the theater becomes a less boring and strict experience for them.

To summarize:I love both concepts and the details and ideas that went into them.  Both teams effectively tackled the idea that a performing arts center should be about what is wanted and needed by a community over what is wanted by the performers and designers.  At the very least it equalizes them.  The word compromise always seems to have a negative connotation.  For me it means we can move forward together as one.  As one we are stronger, and that is a positive!

I feel very strongly that students need to have more of a voice in the future of the arts, that is why I am teaching this class and will be posting their ideas.  Desire Lines: a way to plan pathways for communities and also for colleges.  They are pathways worn in the grass or dirt by foot traffic so that planners know where and how to pave based on need and accessibility.  Let us build performing arts centers using the same concept!

Here is the full text for The Underground!: Download audienceconnectionfinal.doc

Grade: A

In the next few weeks, I will post about an earlier assignment (pre-blog) I had them do which is a review of an audience!

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