Building Excitement: Globally Renowned Architects to Present LEPAA with Design for Performing Arts Center

By: Matt Dotray
From: A-J Media

Originally Published: October 4, 2014 – 3:36pm

Saying that Nicholas Dragga, executive director of Ballet Lubbock, is excited about the construction of the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences would be an understatement.

Or at least that’s how he describes it.

“Yeah, we’re thrilled and we wish it could open tomorrow,” Dragga said. “This will simply allow us to do bigger, greater and newer art in just a glorious, beautiful facility.”

Although Lubbock still has a ways to go before construction begins — which is expected to start in January 2016 — Tim Collins, chairman of the Lubbock Entertainment Performing Arts Association, said there’s plenty to be thrilled about.

Architecture Design Firm

LEPAA put together the final pieces of its development team, adding globally known Diamond Schmitt Architects as the design architect for the facility.

Diamond Schmitt Architects is a Toronto-based firm that, among other things, specializes in the designs of performing arts buildings.

The firm’s portfolio includes the well-known construction of the new Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Sidney Harman Hall in Washington, D.C., and the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto.

Matthew Lella, a principal at Diamond Schmitt who’s working on Lubbock’s new performing arts center, said the firm was interested in taking on the project for a number of reasons, including the enthusiasm of those involved, the unique environment of West Texas and the idea that the building will be used for all types of events, such as educational and community programs, as well as performing arts.

“I hope it’s not bragging to say, but we’ve come by that portfolio because we’re always thrilled to be working on performing arts and theater projects,” Lella said. “No matter where, the type of people that want to build those projects almost always are people who are committed and invested in the outcome. And the folks that we’ve met and worked with in Lubbock are prime examples.”

Currently, Lella said, his firm is working in the pre-design phase to identify concepts that will work well for the community and the needs that have been expressed by those who will be using the facility.

Lella said there are several layers toward creating this sort of facility. The first is obviously to create a good performing space, he said, but the other goes beyond just that. He wants to create a building that expresses its role as the center of the city.

“For this place to work, it’s got to feel like you’re coming home when you come to it,” he said. “It needs to feel like it’s of this place. It’s absolutely not our intention to bring some alien form and plunk it down in the middle of Lubbock. It’s got to feel like it’s come from Lubbock, and it will feel like that because it will come from Lubbock.”

Keeping It Local

To help get an understanding of the local building and social culture, architects at Diamond Schmitt have taken several trips to Lubbock and the surrounding areas. They also join a team of local architects, MWM Architects Inc. and Parkhill, Smith & Cooper Inc., who will be the architects of record.

Lella said having local architects who know the buildings in this area and what materials are most common will also help in the design of a performing arts center that fits well in the community.

According to information provided by LEPAA, other members of the development team are Lubbock-based Lee Lewis Construction as the general contractor, Jack Hagler of Schuler Shook, Inc. as the theater consultant in the design process, Webb Management Services as the business planning and marketing consultant, Jaffe Holden as adviser in the design for the audio and visuals, and Garfield Public/Private as the project developer.

Garfield Public/Private has been in constant communication with the people and groups who are expected to use the facility, Collins said, to make sure it can accommodate everyone’s needs within reason and budget.

He said architects at Diamond Schmitt were in Lubbock last week. During their last visit, Collins said, they presented five options for the building’s design. The LEPAA board narrowed it to two designs and gave the architects instructions for them to come up with final layout, due in late October.

Features

Although Collins did not want to disclose too many details before the design was finalized, he did mention a few features about The Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences.

The building will include a main performance hall with a capacity of 2,200 seats on a main floor and three balconies. The main floor of the performance hall will be able to be raised up and down to also accommodate a more standing-type performance.

Collins said a smaller theater with 450 seats, and a 6,000-square-foot conference area, or multipurpose area, would be able to host luncheons or school functions.

While some of the performers native to the City Bank Auditorium and the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center may relocate to the new venue when it is finished, Collins said it likely won’t often compete with existing theaters because most touring shows are looking for a specific size space to perform.

Besides Ballet Lubbock, a few other local arts groups that may use the facility are Moonlight Musicals and the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra.

The budget for the privately funded project is about $85 million. So far, Collins said, they have raised about $50 million, and look to host a few more fundraising events this year.

“There’s a lot of hard work going into this,” Collins said. “It’s a busy, busy time. There’s a lot of moving parts.”