Snøhetta and Dartmouth have unveiled images of their upcoming expansion and redesign of the Hopkins Center for the Arts (the Hop) in Hanover, New Hampshire. The project aims to modernize the existing arts center and create a renewed gateway to the campus’s Arts District. The new architecture will feature new practice and performance spaces, increased connections to surrounding arts buildings, as well as upgraded accessibility and mobility throughout the master plan.
The expansion and redesign of the existing center aims to bring together artists and audiences in a rejuvenated and modernized facility that honors the building's historic legacy. The building will offer new interactive audience experiences and increased rehearsal and production areas, allowing artists and audiences to create and enjoy contemporary forms of performance art while complementing the Hop’s original architecture, built by Wallace K. Harrison. Snøhetta preserved the building’s iconic arches and presence on The Green, as well as its community-loved spaces, such as the "Top of the Hop", Moore Theatre, and Spaulding Auditorium.
The experiences of visitors, students, and residents of Hanover are all shaped by the region’s geography, which is evident in the layout of the campus, and the combination of "rugged and refined", which is seen across the town's landscape, is reflected in the architectural design. The building connects The Green, which sits at the center of campus, with the town of Hanover, serving as an entrance gate to the campus as well as a vital gathering place for visitors, staff, and students. To further promote The Hop’s welcome, the design extends towards the adjacent streets of the campus and its surrounding New England urban fabric, drawing inspiration from nearby mountains and native ecologies.
The exterior plaza takes inspiration from the curves of the mid-twentieth century building, and is sculpted to provide intuitive movement, guiding visitors towards places for gathering, meeting, and entering. It is designed as a platform to elevate the daily lives of students and faculty, and offers visitors a glimpse into the dynamism of the arts processes happening inside the building.
The voices of an ensemble, the production team for a dance video, and audiences themselves all represent the creative potential of diverse participation. We are excited to expand the Hop's pioneering legacy as a venue for emerging forms of artistic collaboration and creative expression by bringing new rehearsal and production spaces to the building, ensuring continued support for a variety of perspectives and ways of making. -- Craig Dykers, Snøhetta Founding Partner
The new lobby, dubbed The Forum, creates a vibrant social space that will be filled with students, faculty, and staff throughout the day, and with audiences before and after performances. A central staircase links the forum with the second floor, connecting the new Recital Hall and a Performance Lab with the ground floor and plaza. The 150-seat Recital Hall is designed as a glass-enclosed lantern that overlooks the plaza and offers stunning views of the Baker Library Tower while looking into the Sugar Maples on The Green. Its tapered arch-framed windows are created using an innovative, curved mullion system that brings in floods of daylight. In terms of facilities, the space offers state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment that will facilitate the creation of student-led performance media while transforming the Hop into a broadcasting center for digital performances.
Below the forum, a new Dance Studio with partially-submerged rehearsal space and north-facing clerestory windows are placed, bringing in natural light and glimpses to the plaza tree canopy. Its 24-foot ceiling heights and well-lit interiors will offer dancers the ideal place to rehearse. The design also includes a refurbishment of the building's 900-seat theatre, Spaulding Auditorium, and an upgrade of the Top of the Hop, a beloved gathering space within the Dartmouth community. Several spaces on the lower level of the Hop, such as the Theater Rehearsal Lab, will be reconfigured and redesigned as part of the project as well.
Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2022 and will reopen in 2025. During the construction process, the Hop will continue to offer a range of in-person performances and programs utilizing spaces throughout the Dartmouth campus.