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Pittsburg State University Bicknell Family Center for the Arts

Pittsburg, KS


William Rawn Associates, Design Architect; Boston, MA
ACI / Boland, Project Architect; Leawood, KS
Theatre Projects Consultants, Theatre Consultant; Norwalk, CT

Project Description

This clean-lined new facility provides first class performing venues for Pitt State’s theater, music, and dance programs, while also giving the town of Pittsburg a welcoming performing arts venue for touring artists. The light-filled lobby is particularly beautiful and has two galleries and a reception room opening off it.

The heart of the building is a 1,100-seat lyric theater with flytower, orchestra pit, and orchestra shell, able to present Broadway musicals, orchestra, chorus, concert band, opera, ballet, jazz, and popular music. A raised parterre and a single balcony wrap around the side walls, drawing the audience and performers together. Motorized acoustic curtains and sliding sound absorbing panels adjust the room for excellent acoustics no matter the use. The house audio system provides clear, warm amplified sound throughout the room, with an ideally located in-house mix position. Provision is made to accommodate touring audio systems, connections to a broadcasting truck, and future installation of a rear projection system.

The 250-seat drama theater is the primary performance space for the drama department. It is an interesting variation on a black box, with a fixed wrap-around balcony and a demountable thrust stage.
Dressing rooms and a scene shop are located to serve both theaters. A large shelled volume will one day be an ensemble rehearsal space. Its connections to the back of house and to the lobby allow it to serve as support for performances in the main hall or as a performance, reception, or presentation space in its own right.

The project captures remarkable value for its relatively modest cost. Strategic choices early in design – particularly the use of precast panels to enclose the two theaters and the rehearsal room – helped to provide appropriate isolation with remarkable efficiency. Kirkegaard Associates provided room acoustics, sound isolation, noise control, and audio video design services throughout the facility.

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