• violinist
  • student shooting a film
  • communication studies performance ensemble
  • tv monitors
  • art building
  • theatre production
  • VPAC stage

Kara Hill

Kara HillKara Hill, an award-winning architect and architectural historian, is the principal of Kara Hill Studio, a Minneapolis-based architecture firm. While at Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc. (HGA) she designed the 1,700-seat Valley Performing Arts Center at California State University, Northridge, which earned LEED Gold certification because of its energy efficient design and features. From 1994 to 2007, Hill worked at the firm of Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc. As a lead project designer, she led design teams of architects and engineers from the initial marketing efforts through construction administration. Her projects included performing arts centers, museums, conservatories and corporate headquarters. She has taught art and architecture at MIT, Harvard University and at the University of Minnesota.

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>> When I was asked to speak, first of all I was dumbstruck that I was actually going to be allowed to speak for more than 10-15 minutes. Because whenever I'm on a campus I end up getting squeezed because I'm talking at the end of everyone else. And they can actually talk over an hour. So I'm so excited. So now the historic background me is going to come out a little bit because I'd like to talk a little bit about theater in general. But as an architect I do corporate work, I do residential work. But really my passion and my specialty are buildings for the arts. And when I say buildings for the arts I mean museums, performing art centers, art studios. And so you can imagine, especially with an economy like we have right now that it's a tougher time for the arts. So I get this question often, "Do we really need the arts? And do we especially need to go to a different building?" I got this fantastic theater space in my home. I've got surround sound, all the great operas on DVD's. Why can't I just stay home and watch the opera? The museum in my city has all their collection online. I can just sit there and look at a screen and scroll through it. Why do I have to go to an art museum? And so when I ask that question, it's a fair question. Right now you might not want to be sitting by the person you're sitting with right now when you go to a theater. You're at risk. You're getting out of your space. Not my own problem. Maybe I can move down here. But other people in your space. And that's part of the experience of the arts. And so I'm also part of that experience because I design that building you're in and that is part of the experience. It's not supposed to go away. So you go to a movie theater, the movie theater wants everything to go away. It blacks out, it does everything to make the space disappear. You go to a performance in the hall, you see the room. You experience the room and you experience the people with you. And that was part of the richness of an artistic experience. You go to a museum and no matter how great that computer screen is, you've got to see the paint strokes. You've got to see the three-dimensional work of art. And all of that is affected by the building it's in. So starting with stepping back, I know I'm on the west coast. I promise to change coasts soon. Starting with the cyclical quality of art, this came to mind. It's actually the first architectural thing I ever did. I was studying in New York and a lot of people don't know this, but we've got New York Times Square. Times Square almost was razed in the '80s and early '90s'. 46 theaters in Times Square. Only two or three of them were being used for live performances. Most of the halls were built in the 1900's, 19-teens, 1920's. The great depression hit. A bunch of houses went dark. A number of them became movie theaters. And Times Square was cyclical. It didn't bottom out, but it just wasn't what it was at the turn of the century. In the '70's and '80's it was really bad. Most of the houses were dark, and what wasn't dark were often XXX theaters. And so they wanted to raze all of Times Square and put skyscrapers, all the skyscrapers you can imagine. Times Square is in the middle of Manhattan. Where are you going to stake that kind of real estate in the middle of Manhattan? And so not surprisingly, the people who owned the theaters wanted this to happen because you're going to make a lot more money with a flat piece of land than having to deal with the dilapidated theater. And so they hired a bunch of community leaders, preservationists, artists who got together. They started a bunch of lawsuits, and as we know now, they won. And they weren't razed. And so my job was to go down and we would be given theaters like The New Amsterdam. And I would write reports, like "FaÁade intact," or "The marquis is perfect." And of course I couldn't get inside without buying an XXX ticket. My parents were so thrilled that that was the job I had to go into these theaters. And I would do sketches and I would talk about what was still in these halls. What was amazing is they were intact. Many of them were really preserved. So Disney was one of the big catalysts. They bought New Amsterdam. Once they started investing in the early '90's, Times Square took off. I remember because I was thinking about it. This year I saw that the last theater is now finished with renovation and has performances. And Kondingnest did a study that said the number one tourist attraction in the world is Times Square. And so it's kind of amazing to me that it's less than two decades since this place was almost levelled. That's the cycle of the arts. And I work with cities across the country and I work with places around the world and the arts are the biggest draw. If they look at numbers for people who come into cities and urban centers for sports, it is not what it is for arts. And in fact it's much less than for the arts. And so the arts are where we come together as a community. And on a campus like this, it's a place that a community can come to campus. So I'll start with Times Square to talk about theaters. Urban theaters are very different animals than a performing arts center like this. When you go to London, the circus, New York, where I'm from, Minneapolis, traditional theaters were basically a faÁade. You have a public street and there's a back house. And actually in Times Square my favorite places are actually back alleys where all the crazy fire escapes are and the artists are all hanging out smoking. They're right next to the dumpsters. And you never see that, because as a public you see one face. You see this marquee. And so the whole building is often just a swap. It's just one faÁade and a lot of signage. And the building might even come back and then it will grow. The theater will grow behind it. So you get stores and you get restaurants to shop. So going back to New Amsterdam, it's all about Mary. Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins was the architecture. And that's what a downtown theater experience, an urban theater experience, often is. I want to show you a plan. And just for the non-architects here, a plan for architecture is a cut. It's a horizontal cut through a building. So you're looking from above at a horizontal cut. Here's a plan. The blue is the public space. You can see it actually grows on the side. There's probably stores and restaurants here. And the curve is showing a lobby space. And I did blow it up. You're going to love these toilets. Forget about accessibility. But you've got these huge, giant stairs. Toilets crammed in like crazy. Look at the size of this lobby, the upper lobby with this giant bar. It's huge. I don't know how you get to the bar to get a drink. But this is a typical urban theater. Often the lobbies are very tight. Grand Carnegie Hall, it has a little bit bigger lobby, but it's not much space. It's a space that you go in and you do your ticketing. And you go into the hall. The lobby is not a space to really experience. And that's why marquis, especially like in London and New York, are really important. Because they're going to keep you from the rain. Often if you're in Times Square at an intermission, the streets are full because you can't be in the lobbies. They are too small. And so I can't get over to the west coast yet. I'm worried about Europe. The Paris Opera House is extremely important to this discussion, and not just with performing arts but with art buildings in general. The Paris Opera House was during the second empire. Baron Haussmann is levelling Paris, creates the Paris we know and love with the grand axes. All the buildings work in the second empire style. And the French still love to do architectural competitions, which is pretty cool actually. They did a competition for the opera house. And a man by the name of Palais Garnier won. And why this was so important to this discussion is we have a building. It doesn't have a front. It doesn't have a back. It actually has major axes on all sides. And this is the kind of thing that we do when we design performing art centers. He's got a loading area. We've got all these spaces that don't want windows. Performing art center, look at this room. We've got room after room after room with no windows. Huge scale, a huge scale. And you want to make this interesting. How do you do it? And Garnier actually in the second empire, the neoclassical, so he decorated the living daylights out of it. And he also created more program. And he expanded that around this building. So you can see this fly tower up there, it's decorated with everything, you know. And this thing is from the second empire. He made this building interesting from all sides. But one of the most important things he did was from the programming. And when I say programming as an architect, an architectural program is a list of the spaces that are in a building and the square footage attached to that. So when I'm talking about program I'm talking about he added a lot of new space. This plan is a horizontal cut, a section is a vertical cut. So we just cut through the building, we pull the piece away. We're looking inside. And this is such a great section that it's going to give me a second to just tell you. When we're talking about theaters, especially an opera house, we talk about fly towers. When you make a concert hall, the stage is part of the room. When you have an opera, you have one of the most elaborate staging events ever and if anybody ever gets behind New York and it's opera, it's phenomenal. So a fly tower is a very big, massive element. And what a fly tower does is, this is our hall and this is the stage. The hall is proscenium. A lot of you probably know that. A proscenium opening is a certain height. So let's say we've got a 30-foot proscenium. The reason it's called a fly tower is the elements fly. In other words, that curtain has to be at least 30 feet tall. So we now need at least 30 feet to pull it up. It's a string, it's a piece of satin. So already you know your fly tower is 30 foot proscenium. It's going to be 60 feet. Then you need structure, you need rigging. So in general, a fly tower is easily two and a half times the proscenium. And you can see they're very complex pieces. And these horizontal lines down here, those are the trap space. So in our stage, this is where the set is dropped into the floor. So just to let you know, when you look at a theater, a section tells you so much more than a plan because there is so much going on in the vertical direction. So, oops, sorry. I hate PowerPoint. I forget to use them. What was really amazing with Garnier's program is this. This is the lobby. So here is our hall. This is the rest of the building. And nobody thought of it that way. And so people talk about this building and they talk about performing arts centers now as having three theaters. You have the theater that is the performance. You have what they call the invisible theater, which is the back of the house. I mean, we've all seen enough movies and things to know that's an amazing place too. It's actors, it's makeup artists, technicians, all that happening. But the third theater is the audience. And in Paris in the 19th century, and it starts everywhere, is you now have the rituals that were controlled by the court and with the church. And in the 19th century Paris you have a middle class that's educated, that has money and it wants its own community. And that's where the arts come in. Paris at this time, opera was it. But this kind of idea now is it's the community room. These lobbies become the community room. You see them in performing arts centers throughout the country and now working with them throughout the world. And we have Garnier to thank for that. And so here's a collation stair. If you saw a stair like this it would be a palace. It's now in the People's Opera House. And so you can imagine everybody wants to see who's wearing what. He had an ice cream parlor for women. He had everything in this. It's a place to be now. Not just a hall. So I told you we'd finally get out here. So looking at this, this is the first image that I ever did on this project. And it's kind of a glowing hologram. And the reason I bring up Garnier is the building to the arts is not like when I do a corporate building. Corporate building people are like, "I need this much office space, I need this, this, this." When you're doing a building for the arts you're working with the community. You're working with art patrons. You're working with potential donors. You're working with the university. It's a project that you do in a very holistic way. And so starting out, meeting with groups, I was showing this image to say, "What can you imagine?" And what I heard over and over again was, "I want a building to be seen and to see people mingle in. I want the grand lobby. I want the spaces that I can be part of the community." Which was perfect because it worked with what the university wanted to do. They wanted a building that was extroverted. Classroom buildings are rather introverted spaces. They wanted a space where people could come to the community and see the campus, but the campus could also see the people and the building. So an extroverted building, a building where everyone could come together. It also came from the fact that there's been a movement in the past 10 plus years that has been kind of changing the grand lobby concept. I'm sorry I couldn't find better images. There's many theaters and performing arts centers we've built with this idea. I turned to Minneapolis. It was an easy one for me. I know it well. This is the Guthrie that was originally designed in 1963 by Ralph Rapson. And the reason the images are so bad is because I love this faÁade. It's a glass faÁade and it has these wood elements that remind me of like masked balls where you hold the glasses up. And it's just this funny little faÁade that started to cave within a month. So it didn't last long. The whole faÁade. And by the way, when I say faÁade I'll say curtain wall. And curtain wall means an all glass plane. This one is supported with a space frame, but the curtain wall just basically means not windows. It means a big glass system. So it was rebuilt, but it's still the same concept as a big glass lobby. So from inside you see the downtown. You look out from the outside, you see everybody on the inside. The new Guthrie, this has been torn down. The new Guthrie opened a few years ago by Jean Nouvel. It's on Mississippi river. It's a great site. But it's very much a building about shape. And so you can see it has a great view. It just turns inward. It's not about the view. To him the building is about controlling your experience. And so think about it. As you go to museums, as you go to performing arts centers, the reality is the whole experience is not when you're sitting there watching the performance. The whole experience and for better or worse it often starts from you parking your car to getting into the hall. Your experience is expanded and it's certainly expanded into the lobby experience of entering into a space. So what he wants to do, and a lot of theaters are designed this way, is to really control what you experience. And then the big wow is the hall. And so for this, this is what the lobby space is like. So it's controlled. And so when I did the presentations, people are saying, "I want the grand lobby experience again," early on. And this was a decade ago when I started this project. It was over I think 10 years ago. We want the great community space. And that is something very important to my work. This is a small art center idea that had a tiny, tiny lobby and a giant building next door. And the only way to really resolve it is I stole space. I took a big box from the galleries, cantilevered it 30 feet over the river. So it just hangs there. The building is basically just a sculpture. It's a copper tower and a floating zinc box. And when it's done, with the city it had a very tight budget. And so it's become the community space. And what's great with a space like this is it's about view, it's about light. But also artists can use this because it's cheaper materials. They transform it. So you've got kids on the stairs. They do murals all the way up and at a certain point they just knock it all down, paint it, start over again. So this lobby is the active space for artists, but it's also a great space for the community. They do concerts, community meetings and art shows within the lobby space, which really takes advantage of the views of the river. That being said, this is corporate headquarters I did. Lobby spaces are important in many different kinds of buildings. So this corporation went from what we call a pancake building. Everybody was on its own floor. And so if you were in one department, you never saw or mingled with anybody from another department. So we proposed creating a grand lobby that gets everybody moving. First of all, it gets people on the stairs and getting exercise. But it also gets them mingling with a common space down on the first floor. But when you ask a client to do this, some people say, "Well a lobby is nothing but space. It's a sense of space. Why am I paying for that?" So when a client like this says, "I want to do this," they're not necessarily getting what one would say is useable space. But I'm arguing it's the soul of the building. It is usable space. And in this particular case they got so excited about it that they commissioned artists to do works on every floor. So now they have these areas they can meditate and get away. The stair does hang. Again, I love to see cantilevers hanging things. You saw the grand stair. It's a structure that makes it scary. I can't help it. I love it. So now talking about our building, you're now experts. You know this is going to be tough. We've got a performing arts center on a campus that has smaller buildings. So I've got a really big building, I've got a fly tower that's 90 feet tall. I need a loading dock. And this does not have a back. There is no back to this site, right? So we now have to design a building that's interesting from all sides. And it doesn't overtake the campus. We have one fly tower for the theater building, but it's much smaller than the 90-foot fly tower we have. And it's a fantastic site. It's the front of the campus. It's a wonderful site. But then how do you use it? Because people are coming from all directions. So looking at a site plan, I was just reminding you of Garnier. The building has to look good on all sides. So we've got parking on both sides of campus. So we have people coming from all directions. We have our main public street. We know people are going to come and drop off here. You're going to have buses and things drop off here. So we really have people coming from all directions. As non-sexy as a loading dock is, a loading dock is really important in a building like this. The loading dock can really only be on one street. It has to be here on Linley. So it starts to orient the building. And put the lobby on Norland facing south really turns its back on the campus. And so we started to think of how this building might work. And also you can see there's courtyards throughout campus. And so that idea of picking up gardens and courtyards started generating a lot of ideas. So the university wanted to make life too easy, so in addition to it being a performing art center, it has very different programmatic uses. So this part of our building, our lobby and hall, you know what performance space is. So it's mostly evenings. It might be a matinee. It's that kind of in and out of the public. Then you have the stage at the back of house. The back of house is the stage door. So the stage door lives a different life than that lobby space. So artists are coming at all different times. Technicians, people who work in the offices. So they're coming in a very different way than the public is. By the way, north is up, so going north you can see number nine. That whole area is the theater department space. And theater students from what I know, I'm going to look at the faculty, but they're as bad as architectural students. We go in at weird hours. We're in and out at weird times. We're going to classes. So you've got a whole other security situation, a whole other door that you have to deal with. We're in a space that's used by the whole campus. So this space is used six days a week, 10 hours a day by the whole campus. And then above us is KCSN, a radio station, 24 hours, seven days a week. This is a difficult program. And so if we try to have one door, you can come in. If we try to have one big door and lobby for everything, it would be extremely difficult and it would actually be a huge lobby. It would be very difficult to do. So we started to think of the building as being pieces that worked, as almost separate buildings. And by doing that it allowed us to make the building tighter. One of the most sustainable things you can do is get rid of square footage. And it's also one of the most cost effective things. So the more we can get circulation outside the garden, the tighter the building will be for costs and as far as creating a green building. I love the fact that this building has this program. I've been to campuses that have only this aspect and not even really much of a back of house. The buildings are dark a lot of times. They are not being used. This building is being used all the time. This is really great. It just generates a difficult plan that you have to work out. So as I was, and I apologize. As I was working on this and putting the pieces together, I kept doing these arcs. Because here's Nordock and this is your public face. And you want to pull that public community into the campus, into that quad right up to the library, the heart of the campus. And I kept trying these arcs. One of my friends when I was putting this together said, "You drew those arcs 22,00 times, Kara. You've got to have some sketches." I couldn't find any. I piled high and couldn't find any sketches. But that gesture of the arts actually generated this whole front area. So we have an arc of glass, we have an arc of stone, even the balcony has an arc. And they're all pulling from the city into the campus. This side of the building is more rectilinear. The buildings on campus are rectangles, they're square. And we wanted to recognize that context. So we really bring these curves together with that more campus-like flair. So here you see the building has those first arcs. The other piece we did, since this program has very few outside spaces and has the scale issue, is we thought, "You know, stairs are interesting." So as we walk around the building, there's stairs. The stairs are on the outside. So here we've got a stair that actually is right there that connects to KCSN, the radio station. So I talked about with my work, you saw the art museum. You saw the corporate headquarters. There's a very strong connection inside, outside. And that's really important to my work. I just really am interested in that connection. I don't like an exterior and interior that are different animals, different pieces. So you can see here that those sun shapes up in that cantilever sun shape, they go up and down. They come into the lobby. They can become our sealing panels that come up and down. The stone wall on the cell goes from outside to inside. I'm really interested in the connection because I feel that the garden area is as much a part of the lobby as the lobby itself, as the architecture. And so here you'll see. Here's the big arc coming in. We shaded the south glass. South is easier to shade through a horizontal. And remember, we have our hall here. How do you make this really big space interesting? And so what we did is we created those arcs and they became balconies on that south faÁade. So that there's a relief to it. It's not just a flat wall. And at night it's lit, it's wonderful. It breaks down the mass of that space. But as I told you ,that 90-foot fly tower really dominates campus. So everywhere around the building, the building steps down in scale. The one place I couldn't help myself, you see the full 90-feet on Nordock. Nordock has so much going on: traffic, the signs, electrical poles. It's the one place where the building twists right there and you see the whole 90 feet. Nordock can hold it. It can handle it. And I love that tease of scene. That's how big that space is for where the stage is. The tile we used, and I'll talk about the interior too. This little one-inch quartz tile. It's a rubble tile. So as far as sustainability, it's like the leftover tile. It's very inexpensive. And what I love about it is that it's almost like a pixelated photo. You can blur your eyes. Even though it's this massive wall, there's this interest of these little pieces. I talked about the ceiling plane coming in. The floor plane does also. The floor plane is a stone plane. It becomes a fountain and then comes inside and becomes our floor surface and actually wraps up the wall. So here we move inside. There's that stone floor. And I talked about the little pieces making the whole. That's carried throughout the building. So the railing, the stair railing, every tread has a glass piece. It's not big massive pieces. The ceiling plane is a bunch of little tiles that are going up and down. I like to think of it as the staccato ceiling. And what it reminds me of is, if you look at a sheet of music, there's all the individual notes, but you also read it as a whole. And that's the way the ceiling works. That's the way these individual pieces work. They get to scale, but they're part of a larger whole, of a cleaner whole. You'll see as we move throughout the building the material is very tight. I like to keep a really refined material palate. So you really think about very simple material. We have stone, we have glass, we have white metals. And then more in the halls. The interesting thing about--here's another case. You see every stair going up. Just again, a little cadence. A little music. Right, Colin? I'm teasing because this is a construction decision whether or not to articulate that. So the ceiling is really interesting and it describes a process we went through. We had construction managers very early on. And when we were designing this building, California copper was going crazy. And through the country copper's price--because China was building so much and going through the roof, so every month we were over budget and we had to cut back and cut back. And so my initial scheme had this huge cantilever and a big flat stucco ceiling. And the construction manager, C. W. Driver, who actually became the general contractor said that's going to be too expensive. You can image a big heavy plaster ceiling is heavy. And they have a lot of man time, people up there building a ceiling. A lot of scaffolding time. So this is kind of a do-over. So I asked the question, "Well, what if there are identical panels that can come down on the ground plane and then all put up at the same time, so scaffolding time will be less and they'll be lighter?" Not of course telling them that they didn't all line up. But they said, "Yes, that would be great." And as much as I joke about them not lining up, the panels are identical. They just have different leg lengths. And so with two great people in our office, Rebecca and Becky, who worked their hearts out, laid out A-B-C-D, A-B-C-D. But what this allowed us to do was save money. And where are the light fixtures? When you think of a lobby, a grand lobby, they have very extensive light fixtures. We didn't have the money. By doing this, our light fixture is the ceiling plane. We could use energy efficient, inexpensive light fixtures. You never see them. They're on the lower panels lighting up. This also hides our sprinklers, any fire suppression systems, fireproofing. And the other thing is a space like this is not effective to air condition this whole space. That doesn't make sense. You air condition where the people are and you hold the air out. Well, to do that you need big areas with fans on top. Well, there's big open spaces up there. You never see them. They're hidden behind the panels. And they pull the air through. So that hot air rises and it goes straight out. So it actually saved us a lot of money and was a great idea as far as all the different engineering disciplines. But it's also a fantastic architectural element. And so when I design, that's what I like. I like a building that has all of this depth, that you solve many problems through one design setting. And it was great. I don't know if you remember when we came into the lobby and the woman came in and she said, "That's a modern chandelier." And I thought, "It is. It is a modern chandelier." Here's where the panels come in and actually the walls tilt out. So the panels come in and the walls tilt out. The stone floors come in and they wrap up to our 34-inch base. One of my favorite details, very simple, is the stainless steel angle that the stone hits in the plaster. It's my drape ledge. I've always wanted to do a drape ledge. I designed it in two projects but never got it done. It's a little area where people can put their cups down and it becomes a great way of bringing two materials together. I don't know if anybody uses it, but that was the idea. But I hate when everybody puts their cups on the steps or on the top of the garbage can. Here's another stair tower. It actually is the pivot piece, that rectilinear part of the building and has the lantern on top, the peekaboo stair. One thing that happens if you're in the lobby during the day is the first floor, when I get on the first floor I feel the room is not that space where the glass stops. The room goes to the grass ferns, it goes to the trees. The room is that whole space to the landscape. The roof has now become the campus. I look out, I see the music building. I see the other buildings around. I go to the upper level, the room is now the valley. On a clear day you see mountains all the way around. And I love the fact that the space does that. It continues to connect you in different ways, moving up in elevation. And I mentioned the white metals. You see them consistently throughout. I'd like to move into the hall now. And I showed a Boston symphony here. And it's Boston symphony and their traditional concert hall, they're called shoebox halls. They are like a shoebox. And as I said, it's a concert hall, and it's not like this because the stage is only part of the room. And you can see a very strong proscenium here. This gold frame is like a mirror or something that separates the audience from the stage. Another hall, traditional hall, very strong proscenium. Here you can see how a fly tower has a harder edge. But again, a separation of proscenium to stage. When we started working on this hall, we talked about the proscenium. We really talked about wanting the stage to be part of the room. And so thinking about that and working on it, I really saw these rippling wood ribbon that go all the way into the stage. You don't have a hard edge. The wood has to stop because there's lighting positions. There are technical aspects. But the wood comes in and is part of the stage. When the orchestra closure is there, you can see the ceiling plate cascades down from the top. The wood railing is high. The catwalks reflect it. And then become the orchestra enclosure top. So even though we are a fly tower arrangement, you have set the stage as part of the room. And as we've been talking about materials again, other than the wood, white metals, aluminum, stainless steel and then the wood. A very refined palate. Only two types of materials. Like the perforated metal panels and the sunshades where we use a mesh. And what the hall does, and I don't know many halls, if any, that have the same diversity, is the challenge for this hall was very complex. It needed to go from you have a full orchestra on stage, you want reverberation, you want live sound. You want warmth. To a movie premier. You want it dry. You want nothing. And all sound has to come from surround sound speakers. So at the same time, working with the university, all of us, now have a room that's a completely different space from one performance to another. We wanted the room to look consistent and iconic no matter what form it was. So we came up with the idea of all of this variable acoustics. They're all happening behind the stainless steel. So you never now. The roofing too. You have no idea that anything is happening because it's happening behind that mesh and it's happening up above. And you never see it. And I think that's one of the powerful things about the space, is it never changes. I wanted to show this image because you've never seen this. There is so much more going on in one of these halls than the room you're sitting in. And you saw that in the section of the fly tower. There is a lot up there. And my saying is that I stand here as a public designer and lead architect. But there's a point on this project where there were 100 people working on this project. Architects, structural engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, acousticians, landscape architects, theater consultants. These projects are not done by one person. They are done by a huge team. And as I said, the client is very involved and was very involved. They're part of the design team. So you're really, as a design architect, you're trying to keep a vision together, but you're hearing a lot of voices. And that's essential to doing the building like this. You have to be able to incorporate all these ideas. And at times it's frustrating because you feel like a parent because you have to say no a lot. Because everybody wants everything of course, and you can't. You can't for the budget and you can't to keep a building looking like--the old clichÈ is a building that looks like a camel. To keep a true vision you have to say no. But there are so many people working on a project like this. Incredibly talented people. And this is a great team that worked with me. The booth, you can see the giant ducts that are taking the air out from above. Lights, to me I just hope we have light that shows up in pictures. All the dressing rooms and everything back here. This is the large rehearsal room on the southeast corner. And we've won a number of architectural awards. We won one last week and I want to tell you about the architect. One of the jury members showed this image and he said, "I want this to be my living room." And he said, "I would simplify the ceiling. I don't think I need a pipe for it." But he said, "This would be great. I want this to be my living room." This is a large personal space. It has a pipe grid that's 50x50 so it matches the stage. So someone coming to perform can practice in a space that will replicate the stage. But these spaces will be used for everything. They might eat in them. They might use them for storage. You never know in a place like this who is showing up and what they have. And they could be secondary performance spaces for us. So a large personal room is a great space. And by now you know inside/outside connections. Those slots are on the outside of these windows. And working on the building we were trying to give it some elegance. I kept getting drawn to, in another panel area, vertical slots. And actually they even show up in stone. The slots broke up this hanging mass. So here's our window and then below it is a light fixture and sometimes it's a niche. You can see all these silver lines here along the building. It will happen when there's now window or anything, just vertical lines. Those are snap covers. Snap covers are what are on the sides of windows. They're cheap. We had a budget problem. But the snap cover also becomes a wonderful element. It catches the light. So we started to use them to create these patterns and it's fantastic. It completely breaks down the heaviness of that faÁade that has very few windows. And it really gives that long linear, and I think of it as columns. It's like columns. This perforated metal panel is the same metal panel we had with the cantilever in the front. We've taken it from a horizontal situation and turned it and it's now vertical. This is our loading dock with the hangar door. And so the loading dock disappears. And you can see that perforated metal panel is also our railing. So one material becomes many different things. The loading dock is tucked deep into the building. And when you're working on a building like this at the loading dock stage, there are certain adjacencies that you can't change. And we're going to go into the theater department next. Loading dock number nine is the scene shop. Number 11 is the experimental theater. Those are sacred connections. You have to easily be able to go from a loading dock to a scene shop into a stage. And so as an architect when you're working on a building like this, you know that there's going to be connections. They're just givens. And so that is part of your original diagram of how you put it together. So for one moment I just want to mention that I think the courtyard is one of the best rooms in the building. The courtyard is just a phenomenal space and what I'm thrilled about is that it's actually used. Sometimes you create these spaces and you're nervous. Every time I come out here for performances, people are there. Students are practicing. There will be three or four different groups for a class working in the courtyard. It's fantastic. That's what you want to see in a building. And the courtyard does a beautiful job of framing back towards the other arts building and completing that east-west campus. Here you can see, remember our slots on the east side? They come all the way around and this is when they're lit. So they just break up this heavy faÁade and make it light and elegant. And actually, you know the mesh with the stainless steel bars? They have that same feeling. And it almost has a drapery quality to me. It just has this elegance, this long linear elegance. The stairs and then this is the bridge that connects the elevator lobby from the theater department over to KCSN. I see all these spaces as performance spaces. You have one person on one of those outside stairs, you've got a performance. I've seen students up here using the bridge. They were filming. They were all Romeo and Juliet balconies. That's what the courtyard is. It's an outdoor theater. Whether it's a performance or whether it's just the students and audience using it, but it's a fabulous space to people watch. So moving over to the entrance to the experimental theater, there's also a smaller personal room. The smaller personal room has a hangar door just like the one at the loading dock. This one is filled with glass. So the space can open up and you can have a performance and people sitting in the courtyard. You can use it in many different ways. It's a great, again, inside/outside space. And here entering into the experimental theater, that portal has these long narrow metal panels cut out. Again, long slots. So those kind of shapes repeat all the way around. I call this stair the peekaboo stair because of the programming and because we just had so much site. You can't have everything on the first floor, as much as you want everything on the first floor. It doesn't work. So we have dressing rooms for the theater department on the second floor and they're big because they're classrooms. So you will have people getting in costume coming down to perform. And so peekaboo stair has translucent and transparent plates of glass so you don't perfectly see someone in costume. It's a tease. You might see a little bit of them, but you can't perfectly see them as they move up and down the space. The experimental theater is a traditional black box. It means all the seating is movable so you can do a round. You can do a more traditional proscenium-like setting. The tension grid is a fantastic thing to have. It's very safe for students. So adjusting lights, they're getting used to working in a space like that, the tension grid on a catwalk that has openings. It's a consistent surface. The scene shop and the dressing rooms, this is the large dressing room I'm talking about. So they're not just using it as a dressing room, they're not just doing makeup. They're also learning. So there's a projector in there. It's more like a classroom space. And the costume shop. Wrapping up, I wanted to mention the sustainability aspects. And this is a project I did. It's in Minnesota and it was in addition to an old conservatory. And the old conservatory was not in the north-south axis. And we are doing a new building, so it had to really pick up. You had to really respect the old building. But at the same time you want to design a building that basically maximizes. It's a tropical exhibit. Maximizes winter light and minimizes summer light. So you see these panes of glass. They're at an angle and it's perfect for winter light and it deflects more summer light. Just like I love pools on buildings. I love incorporating pools. This particular pool came because the original building had Victorian water potters as part of the exhibit. And they're heated and it wasn't efficient. So Victorian water potters are those giant Amazonian water lilies. They want to bring the exhibit back and it's Minnesota. So what we did is we took the excess heat from the building and exhausted it through the pools. So we heat the pools nine months out of the year without using any additional energy. Now you see along here there are these little awning windows. And think about when you've been by a pool and the evaporation, air right above a pool is moist and cooler because of that evaporation. So what we do is we pull that air in so it's moist, it's cooler and it goes into the tropics. So this actually helps air condition our tropic space in a very sustainable way. And the firm room, you can see up above there are photo panels. They go back and forth like this. Ferns grow in dapple light. They grow under tree and dapple light. So we used photo panels to create the dappled light for the ferns to grow in. Those then power the greenhouse. The classrooms there, just like here, all materials are sustainable. Sustainable wood, recycled wood. Big part of sustainability is natural light. So the classrooms are filled with light. You can see the sky lights pick up that same idea of the photo voltaics. And then we have green roofs that the children go out and work on adjacent to the classrooms. A Georgia building that I did where there's an old warehouse. It was going to be torn down. We needed to build artist studios. It's perfect as an art studio. We cut slots through it with windows. We put those clerestory windows facing north. Architects like to call these hompers. So we have hompers for every studio. And this is 25 foot clear. These are great artist studios. And you can never build them. They would be too expensive. But by reusing a building, they have phenomenal spaces. And also the Georgia project, west facing glass using verticals and again turning glass panels to deflect the light. And then in lobbies in Georgia. They're tearing down all these cotton warehouses and they have wood timbers, wood floors. And so we hired someone to scavenge wood, planed it out and made wood walls in the lobby and in the theater. So for this building I think hopefully most of you have heard. It's great. We were gold certified by LEED. LEED is Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design. I do that every time. I am LEED certified, believe it or not. But it's a way of studying how a building can be more efficient and then documenting it. So a building like this is very hard to get sustainable and get certified because performing arts centers, as you can imagine, you have to control humidity. You have to control the temperature. You can't have flexibility with those things. A big part of LEED is natural light. You can't have daylight in a lot of the spaces. So how do you create a sustainable building? And there are ways to do it. One is the landscape here. First of all, I've already said keep the building as tight and small as possible. Create as much green space as possible. The landscape itself is drought resistant. It's native plants. Pamela Burton did a gorgeous job on the landscape. It's wonderful. There's hills all the way around. Have you noticed along that edge? Those hills were made out of fill taken. So when they dug the basement area, they then made them into hills. So they used that fill on site. We layer the walls, they're heavy. There's not windows. West elevation. The best way to do west elevation is actually in a vertical orientation instead of horizontal. A horizontal cantilever helps, or verticals help. That curve in the angle of the glass helps in many, many light studies. And in addition to keeping existing trees, especially these gorgeous oaks along here, which are fantastic, we've added over 150 trees to the site. So as these trees grow, they also help shape the west-facing glass. But just as important, remember I said we have giant exhaust fans on top. We're not trying to air condition this whole space. That lower balcony, we're providing the air low. We drop the air from all the way down and we're trying to do the whole space. We have the air low and we pull the hot air that's rising anyway and we just exhaust it out. This is our north-facing glass corner. The most glass and the glass that has the least shape because we don't need it. I love talking about this because this just shows how smart we all are. The hall uses this displacement ventilation. Displacement ventilation means that the air is being treated directly below you. So this is the plan. There's a big hollow area underneath all the seats. And they have little grills when you look underneath you in your seat. And the air is coming up and being the perfect temperature right where you are. Then those huge ducts up on top are pulling the air out because heat rises. Displacement ventilation. All the halls are being done with displacement ventilation in the 19th century and early 20th century. But we're so smart, force air is better. So all the halls are being built with forced air. And a lot of you have probably been in a space where there's forced air. So it's really cold and drafty in one area and it's really hot and sticky in another area. It doesn't work in a space like this. And so here we are, late 20th century, 21st century, going back to the technology and the displacement ventilation of the 21st century. It's a much more comfortable space and it's also much more efficient way of heating or actually cooling halls, even in Minnesota. We don't really worry about heating at all. When you have 1,700 bodies, it's all about cooling. And so it's a very efficient way of treating this space. I mentioned our light fixtures. Look around. Even here. You don't see many light fixtures. Light fixtures are almost always hidden so that we can use energy efficient light fixtures that are also less expensive. And so they become elements like in the niche and things. But it saved us an incredible amount of energy. And then back of the house, the lights are on motion detector so you're not wasting electricity. So I'm right on time. I want to finish with, I started this whole conversation with the cyclical world of the arts. We looked at Times Square and we have a phenomenal survivor in our own building. This beautiful sculpture in the front of the building. It was commissioned in the 1960's for campus. It sat in a pool of water in the arts area of campus and the earthquake destroyed the pool, damaged the sculpture. The sculpture really didn't have a home anymore. It ended up broken and in the trees to the west of Oviot. And about halfway through the project somebody said, "You want a Ricky?" I said, "What?" "We got this sculpture. Do you think it would work?" And so we all talked it over and we said, "This is phenomenal, yes." And grants were found to restore it. It was moved into a pool of water again. It is gorgeous and its new base. I was told it was designed for the building. I don't know if any of you have noticed you. It is so perfectly complimentary to the building. It's just very moving to me. And it has a new home. It completes the building for me. It's one of those art sculptures that doesn't really disappear. It has another life. So I'm thrilled with it. I think it's just fantastic. That's the end of my talk. And I'd be happy to answer any questions.

>> I went to school here in the '90's during the earthquake. And I just remember sitting in trailers. And to see this actually come alive at the school is phenomenal. I'm actually jealous. So that's kind of where I'm at. What kind of structural integrity is at the facility now? So if there's an earthquake it's not going to fall down like the other one did.

>> That's a fantastic question. It's a really fantastic question because think about performance halls. You have to have complete acoustic separation from the outside. So massive walls. Massive often floating roof planes so nothing can come inside. We normally do these in massive concrete walls. And how do you do it here? Most of the buildings that I do in earthquake zones are steel because you have a choice in earthquake zones. You either make it so rigid that it's going to hold together as a piece, or you let it move. So what happened with this building, the most efficient way to design is to let it have flexibility and move. And the joints are fixed joints. It's not like it's going to break apart. But it allows it to sway. We've all been in buildings that sway a little bit. You don't try to make it rigid. But to have acoustic separation, you can't have a building that has that kind of flexibility. So there's actually incredible control joints around this building. So the hall itself is a heavy solid mass. It doesn't move. But then all the buildings around it move. So there are big control joints in the building. It was a major part from--okay, cantilevers. You see I love cantilevers. So this huge cantilever in the front which actually was bigger. We pulled it back for cost reasons. A structural engineer calls them Karalevers. But a cantilever actually sticks straight out. And the best way to do a cantilever is one third projects and two thirds go back into a structure. So it looks like it's massive. So that beam is going all the way back and then connecting all the way to the hall and that's what's anchoring it. So that actually is part of a rigid system. Whereas the rest of the metal building is part of a flexible system. And that's actually why I wanted to change the materials, to really kind of talk about how they work structurally. Yes?

>> In the courtyard you have rectangles of concrete. Can you comment on those?

>> They are LED lights. Very energy efficient, extremely energy efficient. And if you think about it, we've got up and down and up and down here. We've got the glass panels on the railings that move. Those lights on the floor just create just a soft little pattern in the ground plane. And I think it just enriches the experience. There's a lot of actually ground plane to ceiling. If you pay attention, the stone mimics the cantilever up above. So by sometimes putting things in the ground plane, it starts to create a relationship above that is different, that just kind of changes your reality. And so that's why we use them. They're actually really energy efficient and inexpensive to use. Anybody else? Yes?

>> With where you started with Times Square, you said that Disney came in and kind of anchored attention to that area and helped start a renaissance there. You were talking about community action. Was there a specific goal as far as the community action to seek out the people that you could bring in to try to create and anchor community interest to pull other people in? Or did Disney approach?

>> Disney was later. But I have to say, I was working on this in the mid-80's. I then went and got my doctorate from a program between MIT and Harvard and actually was teaching and not practicing. So when all of this really happened I was more in the academic world. But what I know is the catalyst, or what actually stopped everything was lawsuits. So Disney didn't really get involved until--this is '84-85 when these community activists were involved. Disney I don't think fully purchased the hall until like '93. So it was really the community groups, landmark preservation, the lions. There were a number of groups that just said, "This is a great white ray. You can't do this." And started to take the corporations to court. But I don't really know. I wasn't really part of it at that time to know that sequence.

>> My undergraduate bachelor of arts was in urban planning, and I love architecture. So I'm trying to figure out the whole issue between private and public in the community partnerships and how to get things. So I'm looking at all that.

>> All I'll say is I was involved in Times Square. I have never read about it since. I never see articles. Did anybody else know that they were about to raze all the theaters? There's got to be a dissertation out there somewhere. But I think it's interesting how these things happen and community groups transform such a huge part of Manhattan. But it's really kind of a quiet story. Did you?

>> Well we didn't rehearse this, but I moved to New York City in 1991. We really didn't rehearse this. The firs project in the Times Square redevelopment plan was funded by the New York Times Foundation to rehab the Victory Theater, which is now called the New Victory Theater. That marquis where you saw the Dirty Five is now the New Victory Theater. And it was committed from the getgo to bring families and youngsters into Times Square to see the live performing artists. And it's a really interesting theater because the history of the Victory goes back to the generation before the Victory. And it was the Oscar Hammerstein Sr. Theater, which was where opera was performed on 42nd street. Sorry. It was a very--there is a dissertation or about 10, because each one of those theaters ultimately has a corporate sponsor. Whether it was Disney, whether it was Ford. Whether the hotels came in and built on top of the space, the place was transformed through a tremendous partnership. You probably know Times Square because it's the New York Times. The New York Times building is right there on 43rd street on the west side of Brooklyn. And so they were very, very quietly. Joseph Lelyveld was the editor of the New York Times at the time this project took place. And his wife was the chairman of the board that developed the New Victory Theater. So it was something that very big dollars in New York invested in quietly on the road to bringing 42nd street back as an attraction for the world, as you said. It's this amazing destination now. Sorry.

>> That's fine. The one bit I was going to add that I forgot was when I talked about these spaces, when I was doing research, one of the fascinating things is many of these Broadway theaters have roof gutters. And so the whole roof of these spaces would be a cafÈ, would be a beer garden. They would have these crazy things. And what I think is so funny, I mean I would have loved to have seen it. But what's so funny is now every city that I go in, everybody tells me, "You've got to go to the new roof bar here." It's the thing. But to think of Times Square in the 1900's there was just this world up on top of the theaters. I think it's just fantastic. You only see sketches and things. You don't see much of it. And they couldn't bring them back now because they never meet code. But to just think of that, it was like that. It must have been an amazing place. Any other questions? Sir?

>> [Inaudible] the development of the program. Who you worked with and how much input you had.

>> Sure. The first thing you do is a feasibility study when you're doing a project like this. So there are companies that do, architecture firms--my firm didn't do those studies. There was an outside firm. And I actually don't remember their name. I've used so many different ones.

>> But you guys did the major part?

>> I'm saying the feasibility study, we did the programming. But there was a marketing firm and they started interviewing the people in the city. "Would you come to a space?" They start talking to different groups. And part of this, what's real important in this, and it's one of the most difficult things for the hall, is the size. Acoustically, a 1,200-seat hall, perfect. Paying the bills for a 1,200-seat hall, not as good. So it's always a give and take. And actually Broadway shows want 2,400 seats. So these original studies started talking to the community and understanding what the hold might be for theater performances in the valley. Then we've done a lot of these. So once we know the size of the hall we already start to know the size of the space. Then we were working a theater consultant. And so they said a hall this size will need this many dressing rooms. You start to do that. We work with the faculty of theater. And we sat down and we said, "Okay, what is going to complement? We've got out spaces. What is working? What is not working and what can we bring to you?" So the experimental theater, they have nothing technical like that. So that was the perfect space to be put in here. And KCSN came as part of the program. The radio station was always supposed to be part of the building. And then to help pay for the building, to make the building really usable, the lecture hall, this is probably the most usable space that you have on campus, lecture halls. So to actually have a nice sized lecture hall, 230-plus, became part of the program. So we interviewed a lot of different people, whether it's faculty. Whether it's administration. And then for the hall, working with community groups. And they do a lot of service. What kind of experience would you come here? So it actually transformed a bit. It was bigger and the back of the house had more scene shops and things. It just didn't seem in the study--it was not feasible to do that. So it functions a little bit more, you know the term roadhouse? So most shows come in and go out. But we have two nice big scene shops, repair shops back of house. But it's really not designed to do a lot of performances yourself. One piece that I haven't mentioned is the mechanical spaces are gigantic here, by the way, as you can imagine. So that's part of the program. For a space like this you need very large mechanical spaces.

>> Did the university approach you directly, or how did you hear about this project?

>> What typically happens is the feasibility study they sent out--there was a proposal sent out. We're looking for architects who specialize in performing arts centers. I have my own firm now with the HGA. And that's the nice thing about being in Minnesota: it's easy to go to both coasts. And so they interviewed, I don't remember, probably five. They probably got 50-75 firms applying. They interviewed five. We were chosen for the feasibility study. We did that feasibility study. So we created the program. We kind of had an idea what the building was. A cost estimate was done and then the project went on hold. It's a hard, hard part of my world. Doing buildings for the arts is a dream job, but a lot of them go on hold. You'll design a whole building that sits on the shelf and never gets build. It's part of what you do when you do a project like this. Building went on hold as they looked into funding. When it came back, the university decided that they had such a great relationship working with us that they hired us. We did a proposal and they talked to a couple other people. But we never had to reinterview because they felt we had already created such a great dynamic through the feasibility study, which was the early architecture.

>> And that's a pattern that's followed many millions of times: the firm that gets the feasibility study, if they're really successful in that process with the folks who are on the campus making the decision, creating the program. It's really, really unusual for there to be a break at the end of the feasibility study if that relationship is really rich. Unless the project just goes dormant for a long period of time. And then leadership might choose to totally start the project all over again because new leadership might not have any ownership in the previous process. And there are shelves in universities all over the country filled with special projects.

>> I would also say it gives the client a window out. We do a lot of projects where they have decided during the feasibility study that they didn't have a good feel. It didn't have a good connection. So that's a nice way of making sure this is going to be a team that works all the way through. So you had your hand up?

>> Yes. The color choice of the lighter wood in the main hall. [Inaudible]. Was that the original?

>> Yes. The wood in the hall is Anigre. It's a tropical wood, but they harvest it sustainably. And I really, really, really didn't want a blond hall and I didn't want a cherry hall. So I was looking for a golden. Okay, we did do gold paneling. We didn't do a gold frame. But there's something about gold wood that just is luminous. So the light reflects back during a performance. The light comes back. It just radiates. That golden wood radiates light during a performance. And so it was a very conscious decision to do that wood. I had never used it before. I think it's fantastic. I really love it.

>> I thought of a question that was asked about the earthquake and the ability for parts of this building to be rigid and parts of this building to float. And I remember showing photographs to people in other parts of the country about this. They showed the density of the steel and the part of the building that is not meant to flow. And it's really, really stunning how much steel goas vertical, horizontal and diagonal. Steel is hidden within those walls that have been [inaudible]. It's a remarkably dense amount of steel. And Colin and some of his team used to laugh at me when I would look at just where the steel came down into the concrete and the amount of rebar that's in the concrete in this building. I grew up in the Midwest. We only have tornadoes. So the idea here is this incredible density in that part of the building is supposed to remain rigid if another horrible earthquake happened here. Versus the other part is much more elastic.

>> [Inaudible]

>> If you look at the stone walls, remember white metals again. Biggest thing, long, thin, silver lines. And those are all aluminum trim pieces that are covering control joints everywhere. There are so many control joints in this building. A massive control joint. There's one in the back that's massive. And it's for that reason, so that things don't break, things don't crack. The building is designed to allow that movement now. I personally hate control joints, but in this building there was a given. And we actually incorporated it into the design by using these. And I like the silver lines. They pick up light again, just like we had the horizontal lines. Ma'am?

>> [Inaudible]

>> We had an acoustician. I haven't worked with the acoustician. They do a lot of 3D modelling and they study how sound moves through the space. But there is a reason those walls are rippling on each side. Because when you create flat surfaces, you can get an effect that goes back and forth. And so actually Boston symphony, when you look at the three A-plus acoustic halls in the world, it's good old Bosont symphony from the turn of the century, Amsterdam and Vienna. And part of Boston is a lot of stucco work that goes in and out. It's not big flat surfaces. So it's not ideal for the wood ribbons that break that up. It's the back of the hall then that has stainless steel panels and they have variable acoustics. It's like heavy, heavy valore basically that is pulled up and down through wires. And so for the orchestra they were down. For anything with amplification you're going to bring it up partially or all the way. And the up above between all those catwalks are giant draperies. Again, they can go up and seal it into a box. And the orchestra is loud. And so a hall like this, and it costs money, but we made the commitment to do a great acoustic hall. There's actually a huge chamber up above. When I showed you those pictures of the catwalks up there. So the hall comes up and then it has a big space which is all about reverberation. It just gives even more volume to the room. So it expands the room. And then amplified sound when the curtain drops and it deadens all that so you don't have the sound vibrate back and forth. So the biggest thing with acoustics is volume. And it's hard, because volume is expensive. The bigger the building is, the more expensive it is. But that's one of the reasons that it worked so well, because we did put the money into having a very large volume for that kind of performance.

>> Also what happens with the heating and cooling, she explained the registers in the floor. That actually opens up that area underneath the room to increase the resonance. So there are literally hundreds of those cylinders and that adds to the volume of the room because those are huge catacomb finished rooms underneath the floor of the orchestra so that's another place for the sound to go. The other thing, if you're having any trouble visualizing the valore, think of Hunter Douglas blinds on steroids. And this isn't an ad for Hunter Douglas, but if you know that kind of honeycomb, the horizontal honeycomb. These are just giant honeycomb. And so when we turn the hall, about every 6-8 feet there's a different motor that operates that particular piece of the tunable acoustic. So you can move through the hall with that tuner and raise those or lower those to adjust all the way around the entire room, all the way up to the very top of the catwalk that Kara was explaining.

>> And actually bringing up the displacement ventilation, it's also the quietest system. A lot of halls you'll hear it. It just goes back and forth. You'll hear something. Even the vents when they open and close, there are little clicks. Displacement ventilation is silent. So it's an extremely quiet space. The structure is amazing. I can be up in the upper balcony and the workers could be down on stage talking and you could hear every word they were saying. They didn't know.

>> Yes, how is that room for secrets?

>> Thank you for being with us this evening. Come back and see us tomorrow.