Craig Gaulden and Davis, Inc., Architect; Greenville, SC
Jerit/Boys, Inc., Theatre Consultant; Oak Park, IL
The Peace Center for the Performing Arts consists of two newly constructed, free-standing multi-purpose theaters built on the site of an old textile mill in downtown Greenville, SC. Several mill buildings were renovated as support, administrative, and retail spaces, while one serves as a riverside, open-air party room.
Both theaters serve a mixture of local arts groups and touring shows. The 2000-seat large theater is home to the Greenville Symphony and is well loved for its warm, supportive sound. Touring Broadway shows frequently play in the large theater. The 450-seat small theater most typically offers drama but also serves dance and chamber music.
The large theater has two balconies and two levels of side boxes. Its tall proscenium and narrow cheek walls ensure effective acoustic connection between the stage and the house. The walls of the room are split-face block, sealed with a clear sealer. Because the sealer did not entirely fill the block’s pores the room is not as reverberant as originally expected; however, given the room’s range of use this has not been a problem.
A large gypsum board reflector over the main floor directs sound towards the balconies. At the proscenium a perforated metal ceiling conceals the large speaker clusters and the reflectors surrounding them. The orchestra shell is a conventional set of rolling towers distinguished by its unusual height (44’ max) and plywood-on-deep-honeycomb surfaces. Extensive velour curtains in the house provide adjustable absorption.
The Peace Center illustrates the idea that smaller cities deserve excellent arts facilities, and that such facilities can be built on a modest budget. The Center has been an important part of revitalizing Greenville’s downtown as well as supporting local arts groups.