Germantown Performing Arts Centre
Located in a culturally-rich suburb of Memphis, the Germantown Performing Arts Centre (GPAC) is a keystone of the Germantown Smart Growth Redevelopment Plan. The 156,000 square-foot expansion integrates a 1400-seat theater, a 250-seat black box, a school of the arts, rehearsal rooms, special event spaces, and offices with an existing 800-seat theater. The building's compact design preserves many existing mature trees surrounding the north and west exposures. To the east, an inviting lawn replaces the existing parking lot and anchors the project into the landscape and community.
The massing, three stacked volumes, is an innovative counterproposal to the hulking, lifeless and introverted volumes of typical audience chambers and stage houses. By extending the audience chamber and stage house massing, the middle and upper volumes respectively, the profile of the theater is transformed from ordinary to extraordinary. Performing arts showcased in the windows of these volumes present the vibrant face of GPAC to vehicles passing by. The lower, cellular volume attracts pedestrians with a similar window into this beehive of activities - from black box performances to classrooms to administrative offices. The design, a result of meticulous adjustments to essential massing and the deliberate display of ordinary elements (i.e. rooms), will remain legible irrespective of future value engineering - a resilient strategy in this economic climate.
The interior layout reimages notions of front and back of house through engagement and transparency. A primary circulation loop on the second level provides access from the parking deck to the lobby to the back of house. This controlled mixing of front and back of house activities erodes the typical segregation of patron and performer. Additional inventions such as black box walls opening to the lobby and exterior further enhance transparency and performance possibilities.