The Buddy Holly Hall Complex Strums a New Chord in Lubbock
By Katie Angen, The Architect’s Newspaper
As a teenager emerging from the Great Depression, Buddy Holly strummed his guitar in Lubbock, Texas to dreams of becoming a pioneering figure in American rock n’ roll thinking, “that’ll be the day.” Decades later, his short music career, traced by its influences from gospel and blues, definitively enshrined Buddy as an icon not only in music but also in American culture. True to Texas style, and in honor of his immense impact, the new Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences is the largest performance venue in West Texas.
The 218,000-square-foot venue will bring the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra and Ballet Lubbock together along with multipurpose spaces and an outdoor amphitheater for explorative programming opportunities. The gently sloping north facade eclipses a taller south facade which envelopes the main theatre space at this tallest section. From afar, the massing opens on the east corner of the plot along a prominent arts district blurring the edge between lot lines. Diamond Schmitt Architects’ sophisticated design especially blooms on a detailed scale as one zooms in. The Canadian firm worked with local architects Parkhill and MWM Architects to achieve the finalized hall that will open in the summer of 2021 to the community at large.
The contemporary facade’s sleek design is reminiscent of the flat, regional landscape, particularly the horizon and layered rock formations of the Texas canyons. Walking to the entrance, the undulating fins seem to float. Hung 5 feet off of the curtain wall, they create a walkable arcade stemming from the design intention to intertwine outdoor and indoor programming. Each fin in plan profile is 2′-6” by 9′-1/4′. Originally designed in concrete, the precast options were found to be too heavy and not slim enough to support the intricacies of the lighting system found in each fin. Diamond Schmitt worked extensively with Fiblast Alabama to arrive at an intermediate solution in the design-assist process: glass fiber reinforced concrete.
The fiberglass resin has a proprietary coating that mimics precast concrete and allowed for both the unique structural condition of the facade’s overhang as well as the wiring for light fixtures that highlight donor plates set in the floor beneath along the arcade. Each fin is actually two halves cast around a steel beam, completely supported from above while the beam ensures lack of movement during strong winds. The halves show a clean reveal as they rotate in their array from left to right. The 1:1 rotation creates a tempo similar to Eadward Muybridge’s locomotion photos from the 1800s or, for a more contemporary example, a GIF.
The story of the facade further continues horizontally, arriving at a metal rainscreen feature wall showing none other than the great icon, Buddy Holly, holding his guitar. Zooming in, the wall is made of individual metal “guitar picks” that provide the opportunity for donor names to be etched in down the line. The curtain wall consultant, CDC, created capless mullions on the facade to help emphasize the verticality and myriad of elements at play. This allowed for vertical mullions with caps to sit behind the 3-story frame every 20 feet. The final product has a timeless feel that plays with the rules of modernism to consider its massing, program, and regional weather. “Mies van der Rohe would freak out because you’re breaking the rules, but in the end, these elements all work together by design to reveal what is behind,” said project designer Michael Lukasik, associate architect at Diamond Schmitt.