Architecture Issues Highlight
Kimberly A. Corbett
The 2006 USITT Conference was another exciting one for the Architecture Commission with continued variety in sessions and increases in attendance.
Among the Conference highlights was the annual presentation of this year's Architecture Award winners. With 40 submissions, the industry certainly is healthy and the jurors were treated to some interesting discussion. In all, three projects were selected for Merit Awards and two for the high Honor Award as showcased on the Institute's web site. Congratulations to all on the award-winning design teams. Look for more information about these projects in an upcoming edition of TD&T.
Timothy Hartung of Polshek Partnership led the Saturday morning discussion of the Architecture Awards and mentioned the jurors' excitement at the innovation and intervention demonstrated by the winners. The winners were projects "where people have found opportunities within their work to do something in a new way…to create opportunities that traditionally are not available."
Beside being an in-depth look at the winning projects, this session, as always, featured conversation about current trends in performance hall construction. This year, talk addressed the audience's relationship to theatre technology. As one attendee mentioned, once there is an "understanding [of] the basic tenets and concepts of what the [theatre] machine has to do, you can cover it up or pull the skin back a bit and expose it."
There was only one architectural tour this year -- a backstage look at the Actors' Theatre of Louisville. Thank you to our hosts for showing us around this space! Other sessions examined a wide cross-section of our Commission, beginning with a discussion of the architectural lighting field.
Active discussion accompanied So You're Being Given a Theatre for Christmas -- Now What? which highlighted the importance of collaboration between designers and users and addressed the process of performing arts center construction. Balancing the Eye and Ear: Things That Go Bump in the Night considered noise control both in new construction techniques and for existing facilities. Those attending Displacement Air Systems agreed that the session helped them better understand this alternative HVAC delivery system and its pros and cons. Budgeting for Your Arts Project was an intense, in-depth look at how all the various construction divisions work together and how cuts in one area may affect others. Predicted cost escalations for the next few years were also examined.
Architectural design sessions included a charette on costume shop design, an examination of the role of natural light in performing arts spaces, and discussion of multi-purpose music spaces and concert halls.
Throughout the Conference, it was exciting to see both familiar and new faces. Those who could not make it this year were missed.
Deadline Looms for PQ Architecture Exhibit
The annual Commission meeting was well attended and focused on programming for the 2007 Conference in Phoenix and an American Architectural exhibit at the 2007 Prague Quadrennial. Richard Pilbrow, of Theatre Projects Consultants, is leading this latter project. The theme is "Architecture for Education in the Arts," showcasing a variety of American projects designed specifically for teaching programs over the last five years.
Projects will be evaluated on their architectural distinction, context within and contribution to the community, and theatrical and acoustical quality. The client, consultant, acoustician, or architect may submit a project. The deadline to express interest in the PQ2007 exhibit is early May 2006 April 28, with preliminary project information due in June. It is hoped the excitement for this project will extend throughout the industry. Also in the works is a student design competition to bring together college and university students from schools of architecture, theatre, and acoustics. The competition is still being developed but is a priority for the Commission.
As always, the Architecture Commission is interested in your involvement! Opportunities still exist to chair or co-chair sessions at next year's USITT Conference. If you have any ideas or submissions for articles related to the meeting of architecture and performing arts, pass them along to Raymond Kent at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kimberly Corbett at email@example.com.