Undulating walls in an array of textures form a visual representation of the music and dance offerings at the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts in Amarillo, Texas. This tone poem in masonry combines stone and brick in a rhythm of radiused and serpentine surfaces, accented with glass.

“We were not working to flat planes on this job,” said Bradley Clay, executive director of business development, Brazos Masonry Inc., Waco, Texas, which performed the $2 million masonry contract. “All the walls were either radiused, concaved, or angled. One wall was curved and canted, like a barrel. The walls that were not plumb needed to be spot-checked every couple of feet to make sure we maintained even corbelling. The building also had very few 90-degree angles, and the odd shapes made for some unusual corner circumstances.”

The Brazos crew used more than 1000 tons of rough-faced Colorado Red sandstone on interior and exterior walls. The serpentine exterior walls were variable in height, with the pinnacle reaching 104-ft from curbside. The stone was placed so occasional courses projected out to create the effect of random ledges. “There were six places on one wall where we projected the horizontal control lines,” Clay explained. “The architect used this design to break the field a little.”

The project's 210,000 brick were conventional units used in an unconventional manner. The brick was intentionally placed “shiner” side out, giving a fluted texture to the meandering walls. According to Clay, the architect made that decision when reviewing a sample panel Brazos Masonry had constructed. Clay related, “He walked around the back side of the panel and said ‘Wow! Can we put that on the outside?' ”

These masonry improvisations were carried into the interior of the building. For example, the rehearsal hall is ensconced within a radius wall featuring 10,000 brick units laid in a zigzag pattern, as prescribed by the acoustical engineer.

The only conventional elements of the masonry project were the gray CMU structural components. The CMU back up, stair wells, and elevator shafts required more than 85,000 units and 380 yards of grouted CMU cells.

In addition to its striking design, the 70,000-sq-ft performing arts center is noted for its state-of-the-art retractable orchestra shell that matches the auditorium, and when rolled back transforms the stage and fly loft to an open stage for theatrical events.

Project Participants
Masonry Contractor: Brazos Masonry Inc., Waco, Texas
Architect: Holzman Moss Architects LLC, New York, N.Y.
General Contractor: Hunt Construction Group, Dallas, Texas
Structural Engineer: Architectural Engineers Collaborative, Austin, Texas
Stone Supplier: Blue Mountain Stone, Boulder, Colo.
Brick Supplier: Acme Brick, Amarillo, Texas