Category: Municipal
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Size: 30000 sq. ft.
Masonry Used:Wissahickon Schist, Cast Stone Sills, and Vermont slate. interior acoustic walls used standard cmu.
Submitted by: Voith & Mactavish Architects

Project Description

Designed to an intimate scale, the theater in the David L. Kurtz Center for the Performing Arts serves as a venue that supports the burgeoning arts program at the William Penn?Charter?School. This accessible and state-of-the-art theater permits maximum flexibility for a variety of performance types with a high level of sophistication for both the school and local community.

The Kurtz Center provides a 650-seat performance space, a band room for 85, a chorus room for 120, a set design/construction shop, dressing rooms/costume storage, music practice rooms, faculty office and music library. Surrounding the theater mass with the choir room, band room, and other spaces permitted the fenestration and articulation of the facade.

As the buildings join in composition, the new building's two cupolas act in concert with that of its historic neighbor. At the same time, the strong, almost symmetrical façade of the Kurtz Center allows it to stand on its own.

The site for the new performing arts building is adjacent to the signature main building of the school, at the front entrance of the campus. This position required a design of the exterior that is both exciting and supportive of the iconic building on campus, while also rising to the challenge of emulating the importance and robust beauty of the historic façade while allowing the Main Building to remain preeminent.

The firm designed a stone building that is deferential yet visually connected to the historic building, matching its materials and detailing. The performing arts center's Wissahickon schist walls were designed and detailed with an exacting response to the proportions and details of the Main Building. The modillions on the raking cornices and returns, the way in which the windows sit in the wall with their lugged sills, the gentle quoining in the masonry, and even the manner in which the Vermont slate roof modulates in color and is graduated in size and thickness are carefully patterned after the historic Main Building.

Characterized by a two-story Doric columned, glazed “front porch,” the building glows as a lantern on performance nights creating a “see and be seen” sense of drama in the entry lobby. ?The expansive use of glass also balances out the strong qualities of the slate used on the lobby windowsills and floor.

Large format, custom cut tiles from Vermont Structural Slate provide a natural, durable material for this high traffic area, and complement the floors in the historic main building. Each stair tread is a separate cut of slate.

Regionally extracted, processed and manufactured slate lines the lobby floor, while recycled glass terrazzo flooring lines the bathrooms. A 10,000 sf green roof sits atop the theater.

Acoustical ceiling tiles, theater railings, and the catwalks are all made from recycled materials and cherry paneling that lines the walls of the theater is made from regional, FSC-certified wood. 12-inch deep fully grouted masonry units lay behind the wood panels in the theater to provide acoustic isolation.

Project Participants

Architect / Designer's Name: Daniela Voith
Company: Voith & Mactavish Architects
Phone: (215) 545-4544

Structural Engineer
Company: Bala Consulting Engineers
Phone: (610) 649-8000

General Contractor
Company: E. Allen Reeves
Phone: (215) 884-2255

Masonry Contractor
Company: Corrado and Sons
Phone: (215) 651-1918

Masonry Supplier's Name: Douglas Sheldon
Company: Vermont Structural Slate Company
Phone: (800) 343-1900

Masonry Supplier
Company: Continental Cast Stone
Phone: (856) 753-4000

Landscape Architect
Company: CM Jones, Inc.
Phone: (610) 644-7224