May 29, 2019 | Written by: Jonah Sacks | Featuring: Robert Long | Original Publication: College Planning & Management

Performing Arts Facilities Planning: a Program-Based Approach

This article, written by Jonah Sacks & Robert Long, was originally published by College Planning & Management. For a link to the original article, click here.

As curricula evolve and the debate over STEM versus STEAM continues in the educational community, performing arts programs are responding with an ever-evolving array of performance activities and areas of study. As arts programs change, so must the building facilities that house them. Institutions that offer performing arts education must address the question of how best to upgrade existing spaces versus when to build new facilities. The following three case studies illustrate how an in-depth review of existing performing arts curricula and facilities can be of benefit when considering these issues.

Appalachian State University
The Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, resides in a thoughtfully designed building that was well suited to the academic program as it was envisioned in the 1980s, but which the school had outgrown over several decades. Key departmental spaces include the 400-seat Rosen Concert Hall, a 125-seat recital hall, and a large band rehearsal room. The Rosen Concert Hall was designed for pipe organ, choir, and chamber music, but is currently used also for jazz band, concert band, and orchestra. The highly reverberant acoustics, while desirable for pipe organ and choir, result in excessive loudness and difficult hearing conditions for other uses. The room also suffers from outdated performance lighting and audiovisual technology.

A study by Acentech and Theater Consultants Collaborative (TCC) included discussions with the music faculty and technical and facilities staffs, as well as a series of listening and measurement sessions involving many varied music ensembles. The result was the development of a roadmap for improvements to the hall, as well as suggestions for extending the use of other spaces at the school.

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