New Performing Arts Center at Capital High School in Olympia [ZOOM]
(registering for AIA credit)
Hosted by Lincoln Construction and McGranahan Architects
Olympia School District and Capital High School will soon be unveiling a new Performing Arts Center designed with 500+ seats to bring a broad range of performers to the stage. With forty-five building industry audience members tuning in on the January 22 virtual program, Tim Mahoney of McGranahan Architects, and Jamie Tiegs of Lincoln Construction explained the challenges and opportunities encountered in the design process and throughout construction.
Beginning with a site design exercise conducted with stakeholders, the design team looked at various locations to place the new PAC. The District relayed concerns they received and the siting at the lower elevation of the site proved to offer opportunities to integrate the large-volume Performing Arts Center addition within the existing campus and the context of its suburban neighborhood along the north boundary. The existing grade change provided opportunity to make connections on two levels: 1) parking, proscenium stage, scene-loading area, and back-of-house areas on the lower level; and 2) auditorium entry on the upper level. This greater exposure to the public also met the District’s desire to demonstrate a sense of ‘community pride’.
Careful construction planning and coordination methods were implemented to support campus-wide improvements of four concurrent construction projects: Re-roofing, HVAC upgrades, exterior envelope renovations, and new Performing Arts Center. With construction beginning in 2018 (pre-Covid), temporary pedestrian was installed to maintain safe movement throughout campus. All contractors followed agreed-upon lines of communications to stay appraised of construction progress, overlapping of construction meetings, deliveries to site, and use of very limited laydown area.
Concurrent projects, particularly exterior envelope renovations and the new PAC, also provided opportunities to connect the large volume mass of the PAC with the rest of the established campus scale while updating the overall aesthetic. Replicating the curved roof structure at the existing Commons on the two-story lobby space of the new PAC helped blend the new with the old visually, while the upper walkway provided a physical connection and enabled movement under cover.
Unique construction challenges associated with building a Performing Arts Center impacted standard construction sequencing practices. The contractor re-examined work to facilitate the necessary coordination of trades to complete a building. For example, a large opening in the CMU walls was required to provide access for the theater equipment, then closed up later. Additionally, new procedures were incorporated when Covid hit 2/3 of the way into construction.
In addition to requiring typical mockups for exterior work critical in a tight envelope, the architect required mockups to control the quality installation of the interior finish panel system, revealing a need to change some materials. Other lessons learned by the project team included field testing installations rather than accepting fabrication testing results, particularly of underground ducts.
McGranahan led the design team of PLA Designs (theater consultant), SCJ Alliance (civil), PCS Structural Solutions, BCE Engineers, BRC Acoustics, and RW Droll Landscape Architects, in developing a regional, contemporary center while providing and maintaining a safe, functional, and enriching environment for the area students, staff, and general public.
Let the show begin!