The Simpson Center For Performing Arts
The Baldwin School | Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Following irreparable damage to its theater, The Baldwin School was forced to temporarily use its 1950’s era gymnasium for their performing arts program. The school ultimately decided to convert the gym into an arts center rather than pursue a new ground-up facility. VMA was commissioned to convert the building into a 300-seat, flexible performance space supported by a suite of back-of-house amenities.
A flat-floor performance hall features a combination of telescopic seating and portable risers, easily accommodating a wide array of stage and seating configurations with minimal setup. The upstage wall is covered in wood-paneling to provide a backdrop for performances but can be concealed via tracked curtains to create a black box theater. A large bank of north-facing windows was restored to provide daylight and views during concerts and assemblies. Acoustic draperies may be deployed depending on the performance type and portable acoustic towers are available for smaller ensembles to shape the sound and direct it toward the audience.
The control room overlooking the hall contains equipment to manage the LED performance lighting and AV systems. A pipe grid spans the entire performance hall ceiling to allow lighting and scenery to be hung anywhere in the room. The back-of-house includes dressing rooms, costume and scenery storage, a shop closet, and crossover corridors allowing performers to enter the hall from three discrete entrances. Lastly, a drama classroom doubles as a green room and features a folding glass partition to extend the lobby for large audiences and events.
Size: 12,000 sf
Budget: $3.8 million
Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape