Madras Performing Arts Center Unveiled as New Cultural Focal Point
The stage is set for the official unveiling of the Madras Performing Arts Center as the finishing touches are put to the flagship 34,000 square foot facility constructed as part of an improvement program funded by a $26.7 million bond measure passed by Jefferson County School District voters in 2012.
Billed as one of the most technologically advanced venues of its type in the state with a 600-seat auditorium, the new complex at Madras High School also features renovations to the athletic facilities covering reconstruction of the track and football field, new bleacher seating, press box and a free-standing concession stand.
But the performing arts focal point, designed by BBT Architects and built by general contractor Skanska USA, is attracting the most attention as a long-aspired to and welcome addition to the Madras community.
“They tried to get an auditorium constructed when the high school was built in 1964 but they couldn’t get the funding, so this has been a project some 50 years in the making,” said Darryl Smith, Jefferson County School District Director of Operations.
Skanska Project Manager John Williamson added the facility is on the leading edge of performing arts technology, and includes automated controls for lighting and sound, programmable light sequencing and the ability to operate remotely. Energy-efficient lighting, heating and cooling are all also major features of the building.
The auditorium stage is spring-boarded, which makes it ideal for dancers, while “acoustic clouds” hanging from the auditorium, sound absorbing panels and even seating design contributes to maximizing sound quality and projection ability.
The new facility also has an expansive stage and professional quality dressing rooms complete with closed-circuit TV, so performers can check in on production progress.
Nearby, a spacious “green room” complete with kitchenette used as a gathering place by actors, dancers and band members preparing to enter the stage, will also double as a multipurpose room for the district for staff training and be available for community use.
An assembly of railed catwalks is arrayed above the stage, where crew hands can operate the lights and other equipment, while the new technology will also provide students in the school’s drama program a chance to learn back room roles involved in production, such as lighting technicians and stage management.
A system of automated pulleys extending from a fly loft area is also in place for maximum flexibility in the streamlined shifting of scenery and backdrops.
The public entrance lobby area provides ample room for audiences to congregate or enjoy intermissions, while extensive use of glass adds to the airy feel, complemented by a cascading curved staircase leading to the upper level of the auditorium.
Smith said: “It’s a tremendous improvement from before where performances had to be held on a stage in the cafeteria or in the gymnasium, which ruled out being able to put on certain productions because of the practical limitations.
“The students have actually been pretty resilient over the years and put on great performances, but having this new center will give those kids a boost and provide so many more opportunities for performances.”
He added that a more efficient building was able to be created than first anticipated because of the multi-use design approach, adding: “Part of the bond included athletic facilities upgrades, and so with some shared spaces that provided savings in the overall cost.”
He hailed the ability to open up the center to wider community use, which was part of the philosophy for the naming of the new venue, saying: “It’s the Madras Performing Art Center; it is all of our schools’ and the whole community’s.
“It will provide a venue for a whole variety of community events and community concerts.
“We have people interested in reviving a local theater group and we’ve had symphony groups that have expressed an interest in coming to Madras to perform, but the only venue we had previously was our gymnasium, and they wouldn’t perform in a gymnasium.
“I’m really excited that our community stepped up and proclaimed that this is important to our kids and our community, and that’s why we were moving forward with the initiative. It will really increase the opportunities for cultural enrichment and people will be proud of this facility and be happy to be a part of it.”
Williamson concurred, adding: “One of the great things about this new facility is that it is going to be such a community focal point.
“This will be Madras High School’s first auditorium and not only will it allow the school to have a wider variety of programs for students, but it will also offer opportunities to host traveling groups from a wide variety of the arts that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to showcase.”
BBT Architects Principal Todd Turner commented: “The design for this Performing Arts Center (PAC) includes the latest in lighting and sound equipment, a combination green room/community room and includes shared space with the athletic department to support a new stadium and sports fields.
“The substantial height and prominent location of the PAC also adds visual recognition to the building, and is tied to the high school through use of complementary materials.”
The initial design process gathered input from a variety of stakeholders including school personnel and the wider community, with Smith observing: “The attention to detail reflected a great team effort and really analyzed how best to serve the students’ and community needs.”
Smith said the district is planning a “soft” opening, featuring student winter concerts and other performances, including an upcoming visit by Ashland Shakespeare Company organized through the school’s english department, and the initial events would also provide an opportunity for technicians to put the new equipment through its paces.
He said: “Once we get the bugs worked out, we are probably looking at holding a gala grand opening sometime in the Spring.”
Madras Performing Art Center
Jefferson County School District • 541-475-6192 • www.jcsd.k12.or.us
Contractor: Skanska USA
Project Cost: $26.7 million bond measure
Square Footage: 34,000
Project Manager: John Williamson
Project Manager: Julie Hyer, Skanska
Supervisor: Mark Morse, Jacob Struck, Skanska
Engineer: Hans Rindfleisch, Skanska
Architect: BBT Architects
Principal Architect: Todd Turner
Construction Manager: Wenaha Group, Dave Fishel
Civil Engineer: WH Pacific, Fred Kroon
Structural Engineer: Walker Structural Engineering, Joe Speck
Mechanical & Electrical Engineers: MFIA Consulting Engineers, Rich McGinnis & Tanner Najafi
Low Voltage Engineer: MLC Engineering, LLC, Lun Chau
Theatre Planner: PLA Designs, Inc., Paul Luntsford
Acoustic Engineer: Altermatt Associates, Inc., Russ Altermatt
Landscape Architect: Vallier Design Associates, Marcia Vallier
Subcontractors and Suppliers:
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