- Architect In Charge:Rodolfo Machado
- Project Director:Edwin Goodell, AIA
- Project Managers:Stephanie Randazzo-Dwyer, AIA; Nathan Fash
- Senior Designer:Seiee Kim
- Designers:Jeff Butcher, James Setzler, Noel Murphy, Cheng-Yang Lee, Guillermo Pressiani
- Construction Manager:Charles A. Gaetano Construction Corp
- Client:Hamilton College
- Country:United States
Text description provided by the architects. Project Siting
The new Kennedy Center for Theatre and the Studio Arts is sited directly across from the recently completed Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art, also designed by Machado and Silvetti Associates. Together with the McKim Mead and White designed Molly Root House, home of the art history department, these two new buildings and the new lawn and pond, designed by Reed Hildebrand as part of the MSA team, form a highly visible new arts quad at Hamilton College. The Theatre and Studio Arts building is located along the southern edge of its open site and designed to shape and frame views of an interior lawn, which slopes gently down to the pond at the site’s center. The project’s tallest element, the Romano Flexible Theatre, is placed at top of the hill to make a visual connection between the new building and the historic Hamilton College campus on the other side of College Hill Road. Porosity is a critical component of the inclusive design. The project siting and design carefully considers pedestrian and vehicular access from existing campus paths and roads and movement through and around the new building weaves it into the campus fabric.
Serving the Arts at Hamilton
Theatre and the visual arts are integrated into all disciplines within the broader liberal arts curriculum at Hamilton College and students and faculty from all majors and departments actively use the new buildings and surrounding landscape. The Kennedy Center brings classrooms, studios, faculty offices, performance spaces and technical workshops into one 24-hour facility to reinforce this interdisciplinary program. The building brings two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and four-dimensional art studios and theatre program spaces under one roof in a facility with state-of-the-art ventilation systems, controllable natural light, loading dock and freight elevator access, and classrooms and storage spaces, specially designed to accommodate Hamilton’s unique visual arts and theatre curriculum.
Studio Arts Spaces
The project provides a full range of studios, classrooms and workshop spaces to support the wide range of studio and digital arts programs offered by the College. The new Theatre and Studio Arts Building brings these programs under the same roof in a facility with state of the art ventilation systems, controllable natural light, loading dock and freight elevator access and classrooms and storage spaces specially designed to accommodate Hamilton’s unique visual arts curriculum. The project is designed with 2D studio spaces on the second floor where they can benefit from natural daylight and 3D sculpture studios and supporting workshops on the lower level to accommodate heavy tools and facilitate the movement of large materials. Wide corridors and a high capacity service elevator connect all of the studios into one large program neighborhood and provide easy access to all of the shared workshop spaces. Noise levels are carefully considered throughout the spaces. The highly sound-sensitive spaces of the theatre and 4D ‘STARS’ program are separated from the shops by a large exterior space and massive wall construction. Careful attention is paid to the sound isolation of the shops from the studio art offices and classrooms. The need for each studio and workshop space to accommodate several classes during any given semester and the desire to maximize teaching time during scheduled class periods has placed an emphasis on efficient storage and quick cleanup solutions.
The 4D ‘STARS’ program areas will be equipped with state of the art digital media technologies. The multidisciplinary space draws students from art, theatre and music departments as well as mathematics, social sciences, physics and others, using digital media as a bridge between diverse areas of study. The program elements are comprised of teaching classrooms, preproduction and editing studios and a central screening room. Given the natural crossover between the digital photography and the work being done in the STARS, these teaching spaces have been placed in close proximity. These spaces tend to be loud and sound sensitive so special attention has been given to sound isolation and room acoustics within this program neighborhood.
The Kennedy Center for Theatre and the Studio Arts brings theatres, scene workshops, classrooms and faculty offices that had been located on opposite sides of the Hamilton College campus into one new state of the art theatre facility. The project has been designed with three scales of performance space, designed and equipped to support the unique pedagogy of the Hamilton College theatre department. The ‘Studio Classroom’ is a small space designed to support small, student run programs and acting workshops. The intermediate scale ‘Barrett Lab Theatre’ is equipped with a wire rope grid, full control booth and all of the technology to support a range of production formats. The ‘Romano Flexible Theatre,’ the largest of the three performance spaces, is only used for one show each semester. As an integral part of the theatre training, students work with faculty to design and build elaborate sets that transform the Flexible Theatre space for each show. This transformation takes this larger theatre out of service for smaller shows and senior projects during the semester. Strategically located between the Lab Theatre and Flexible Theatre, the Scene Shop provides a range of metal and wood working tools and a large layout area and spray booth to give students the resources to build elaborate sets. In addition to the spacious green room and dressing areas, a costume workshop allows students to dye and sew their own costumes. The project also includes a Design Classroom where students learn the drafting and model building skills needed to design theatrical sets and lighting strategies.
General Organization of Programs
The project is designed with 2D studio spaces on the second floor, where they can benefit from natural daylight, and 3D studios and supporting workshops on the lower level, to accommodate large tools and facilitate the movement of heavy materials. 4D program areas are equipped with state-of-the-art digital media technologies. The multidisciplinary space draws students from art, theatre and music departments, as well as mathematics, social sciences, physics and others, using digital media as a bridge between diverse areas of study. The program elements are comprised of teaching classrooms, preproduction and editing studios and a central screening room. Given the natural crossover between the digital photography and the work being done in the 4D studios, these teaching spaces are placed in close proximity.
Wide corridors and a high capacity service elevator connect all of the studios into one large program neighborhood and provide easy access to all shared workshop spaces. Noise levels are carefully considered, and special attention is paid to sound isolation between shops, offices, classrooms, theaters, and highly sensitive sound recording spaces. The facility also includes three types of performance space designed around Hamilton’s pedagogy: the ‘Teaching Studio,’ where acting is taught, the ‘Lab,’ where ideas are tested and the ‘Flexible Theatre,’ the space where larger scale theatrical productions are performed.
The two-story structure is steel framed with concrete-filled metal pan slab construction. A site cast concrete basement, housing mechanical equipment and storage, occupies less than half of the buildings footprint. The remainder of the building is built as slab-on-grade with perimeter site cast concrete frost wall foundations.
The building is clad in two primary materials, alcove bluestone and ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) panels, and incorporates an expansive 400’ curtain wall to open the entire building to views of the lawn and pond. The regional alcove bluestone, used as an exterior and interior cladding material for the two largest theatres, was quarried nearby at NY State Quarries and was the material that was used to build large sections of the Erie Canal. These large stones were laid in an ashlar pattern as part of a cavity wall construction that included Roxul insulation outside of a continuous and fully adhered air, vapor and water barrier membrane. The backup wall was built with fiberglass faced gypsum sheathing on light gage metal studs. The UHPC panels (manufactured by TAKTL in Pittsburg, PA) were custom designed by MSA with a tapered fluting which opens from bottom to top to expose an abstracted tree pattern on the recessed surface. These panels are installed as a vented rain screen, hung off aluminum girts. The backup wall for this assembly includes Roxul insulation over a fully adhered membrane on a fiberglass faced sheathing and metal studs.
Flat roofs are sloped with tapered polyisocyanurate insulation to internal drains. High efficiency diffusing skylights and internal coffered ceilings are used to reduce energy costs and provide natural, even lighting over the major studio spaces. Skylights in the painting and drawing studios are equipped with motorized blackout shades to provide the rooms with full blackout capability for the projection of images and the staging of still life and model scenes.
The project uses Kawneer insulated glass curtain walls with thermally broken frames, warm edge spacers and argon filled cavities to maximize thermal performance. Windows into offices, classrooms, workshops and other program spaces are typically operable aluminum frame window units. All glass is low iron with UV resistant coatings. All studio spaces and classrooms are equipped with motorized shades to control light. Sliding panels in the drawing studio block light and provide a continuous pinup surface along the exterior wall when closed.
Workshop and studio spaces require high ventilation rates and large quantities of fresh air. Mechanical systems are designed to provide the highest level of safety for students and faculty while taking advantage of all opportunities for energy conservation. CO2 and motion sensors, as well as manual user overrides, are used to modulate ventilation rates in response to building occupancy and actual ventilation needs. The building uses heat recovery units to draw energy off of exhausted air and systems are designed to maximize the benefits associated with the diversity of ventilation rates and heating and cooling needs within the project at any given time. All lighting in the project is controlled off of a Lutron system to optimize energy use.