Monday, October 3, 2016

Preview: Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS

Posted By on Mon, Oct 3, 2016 at 5:31 PM

click to enlarge Viewed from the east, this will be the front of the Ent Center for the Arts when it opens in January, 2018. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Viewed from the east, this will be the front of the Ent Center for the Arts when it opens in January, 2018.
UCCS will be moving its performing arts programs to a new, purpose-built building in order to encourage collaboration. Dubbed the Ent Center for the Arts, it's set to open in January of 2018. That's the story behind the Ent Center for the Arts, but that's a fraction of the cool things they've packed into this new building. I toured the active construction site last Thursday, Sept. 27, and what I saw promises to be a substantial resource for arts in the Springs.

When finished, the 92,000 square foot building will feature three theaters, a recital hall and a gallery, as well as rehearsal spaces for music and stage, a recording studio and more. 

On the outside, the building will be mostly glass and metal. Matt Vineyard, senior project manager at JE Dunn construction and leader of our tour, says the building will act as a display room for a state-of-the-art anti-reflective glass — a critical choice, considering the building's location on the east side of Nevada Avenue.

As for the theaters, the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant and Osborne theaters' names will be carried over. The new Dusty Loo is modeled on the Dorfman (formerly Cottesloe) Theatre in London. Once more, it's a true black box, but now, it features a trapdoor and space underneath. They've already built a mezzanine and catwalk — the former can be used for seating or theatrics, while the latter will provide crew with access to the new lighting rig, set up on a pair of rolling gantries for added versatility. All told, it's going to be pretty similar in size to the current Dusty Loo, seating as many as 250 to 300 people, depending on performance constraints. As for the Osborne, it's much bigger, seating up to 100 people.

And then there's the new, yet-unnamed theater, which will host all manner of performances, including live music, dance, theater and film. It seats 786 — smaller than the 2,000 seat Pikes Peak Center, but, by design, big enough for smaller touring events. The acoustic panels will be fully adjustable, so the space can sound great whether it's hosting a film festival, a string quartet or a rock band. It will also have an orchestra shell and a sprung floor system for dance performances.

The Chapman Foundation recital hall, which will seat 242, has been built to have some of the most stringent sound control in the state, according to Vineyard. He describes it as a box in a box, acoustically isolated from the entire rest of the building.

GOCA 1420 will be closing, but the Ent Center will feature a new one, dubbed the Marie Walsh Sharpe GOCA. It's going to be about the same size — 2,550 square feet and around 14 feet from floor to ceiling — but it will boast a museum-certified humidity control system, so it can host "anything we can borrow," according to GOCA director Daisy McGowan. When it opens, the first exhibit will be a new body of works from local artist Floyd Tunson, according to McGowan.

That said, the Center is designed to host art throughout. On the southwest corner, there will be a statuary garden, with an ever-changing lineup. Expect also sculptures suspended from the ceiling of the lobby, including a piece by LA-based Ball-Nogues Studio.

Check out the photos I took on the tour below:
click to enlarge The Center's lobby will have massive glass walls, designed to frame the view of Pikes Peak. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • The Center's lobby will have massive glass walls, designed to frame the view of Pikes Peak.
click to enlarge The yet-unnamed main theater will seat 786 people and feature an extended stage, orchstra shell and sprung floor system for dance performances. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • The yet-unnamed main theater will seat 786 people and feature an extended stage, orchstra shell and sprung floor system for dance performances.
click to enlarge The Center has multiple balconies; this one will overlook the statuary garden and underpass to University Village. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • The Center has multiple balconies; this one will overlook the statuary garden and underpass to University Village.

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