Hamilton’s up-and-coming artists and actors will have an integrated home when the new theatre and studio arts complex is completed in July 2014. The new center will contain three main areas for the arts, theatre and digital arts and by virtue of its central location will become the “front porch” of campus, according to Professor of Music Sam Pellman, who has led the campus planning committee for the new arts facilities .
Few details were spared during construction in an effort to make the building assimilate into campus. The architectural firm Machado and Silvetti Associates designed the building to integrate with features of other buildings on campus. A center pass-through mirrors others between McEwen and Kirner Johnson and through List on the South side of campus, for example. An oculus between the first and second floor is similar to others in McEwen and List. The firm designed the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art and the theatre/arts facilities to “converse with one another,” aligning the center of the two buildings perfectly across College Hill Road. Stones from the same geological period as those found on other campus buildings will be used for the exterior design components. The concrete panels will also reflect the patterns of trees that previously stood on the construction site.
Hamilton arts students will benefit from the new building’s design. Senior art students will have their own studio space within one central area, rather than working in spaces all over campus. The senior project spaces will offer a variety of different lighting conditions to address the varying needs of the students. Ceramic and sculpture studios have been combined and there will be a wood shop, a casting studio and a hot shop for welding and encaustic painting.
The theatre areas are reflective of the progression of a student’s education: design room to classroom for playwriting to acting, thus bridging the learning to the doing, , according to Professor of Theatre Craig Latrell.
The lab theatre will be student-driven for undertakings like senior projects. It has a changeable configuration and is designed to be “production minimal” and will also be used for teaching and directing. The first floor has a costume shop and trap room, storage, three dressing rooms with 21 stations and a green room with audio and visual.
Public accessibility was another consideration in the construction of the facility so that the community will feel welcome. Public areas are handicap-accessible and the theater will feature infrared systems to assist the hearing impaired.
The main design focus may be on the physical building, but many outdoor components were considered as well. In order to create a space for outdoor performances, the lawn has been sculpted to create an amphitheatre. A pond is located in front of the new facility with plantings to prevent erosion. The water will come from Hamilton’s reservoir. It was designed to maintain specific oxygen levels within the water that will allow the surface to freeze for ideal skating conditions during the winter months.
Reflecting the great generosity of Hamilton alumni and friends, this facility is primarily donor-funded. Completion is scheduled for July 2014.