The Simpson Center For Performing Arts
The Baldwin School | Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
The Baldwin School was forced to temporarily use a 1950’s era gymnasium for their performing arts program following irreparable damage to their theater. The school decided to permanently convert the gym into an arts center rather than pursue a new ground-up facility. A previous feasibility study had confirmed the viability of the plan, and VMA was commissioned to design the transformation. The result is 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 daylighting and views during concerts and assemblies. Acoustic draperies can be deployed depending on the performance type, and portable acoustic towers are used 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 audio-visual 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. 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