Architects preview plans for high school concert hall

Ponca City Now - April 20, 2016 5:02 pm

By Beverly Bryant/News Director

Lewis Associates Architects presented a preliminary design of the proposed Ponca City High School Concert Hall to members of the Ponca City School Board at noon Wednesday.

Plans are to build the concert hall on the site of the Hutchins Memorial Auditorium, which is to be demolished this spring. Further talks between the school board and the City of Ponca City administration are set later this week.

Troy Lewis opened the presentation with three goals for the project:

  • Reinforce the connection between the concert hall and Ponca City High School;
  • Allow for future expansion to make room for the entire music program in the future;
  • Cause the least possible disruption to War Memorial Park, which surrounds the site.

The firm’s plans include using the existing parking, extending but not moving utilities already on site, and creating a "campus quad" concept so the concert hall is clearly connected with the high school. The large front lawn of the school would be the center of the quad, with the concert hall anchoring the southern edge.

In the proposed design, the concert hall would be moved closer to the street and be placed on axis with the high school. A "picture window" which allows a clear view of the hall would further add to the visual connection and would involve removing a very few trees, some of which would have to be removed during demolition of the current building.

Lewis said his intention is to create a drop-off lane in front of the building on the same level as the street, to allow for handicapped accessibility with no stairs or ramps. Six or seven on-street parking places would be removed to make that lane possible.

The existing parking areas around the building would remain, and the walking trail would not move in this plan.

The front of the proposed building would be moved 120 feet north of the current structure, Lewis said.

He reiterated that the discussion with city administration is necessary before cost estimates can be made.

Designer Richard Winterrowd presented illustrations showing the floor plan of the proposed space, explaining features that will be found in the new building.

The performance space is called The Room, and includes seating for patrons, a performance platform and space for the student performers in the back of the house. Services such as rest rooms and concessions would be on the north side of the building.

Two sculptural staircases would rise to the balcony, which would include an unencumbered view of the Howell Building at the high school.

Hallways outside of the performance auditorium would include sound and light locks which would reduce any distractions for patrons in The Room.

Perimeter rooms would include storage for a piano, other instruments and technical equipment.

A second floor balcony would provide additional seating and would be tiered.

Winterrowd said the building would be 60 feet tall, and The Room would rise to 50 feet in height.

The Room would hold 1,200 seats, and stretches 82 feet from the performance platform to the last row of seats in the back. The seating would have a gentle slope and seats would be staggered so patrons would have uninterrupted views of performances.

In addition to space for instrumental performances, a loft for vocal musicians would include bench seating with supportive backs. Winterrowd said seat cushions would define individual seats.

He said a second technical balcony will add to the accoustical properties of the space, which are the highest priority for the building. Wall finishes will include curtains that will also add to those properties.

Although talks are continuing, the architects said they anticipate construction could be completed by July 1, 2018.

Rendition courtesy of Lewis Associates Architects


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