The United States Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT) presented the Red Mountain Theatre Arts Campus project with an award in the honour category as part of this year’s Architecture Award programme. The winning design team includes architectural firm Live Design Group; theatre consulting firm TheatreDNA; and acoustic firm SoundArts.
Sponsored by the USITT Architecture Commission, the competition has honoured excellence in design in theatre projects for the past 25 years. Past judges include Norman Pfeiffer FAIA, Yasu Toyota and Malcolm Holzman FAIA, and they evaluate submissions based upon creative image, community contribution, performance venue design, functional operations between front and back of house, as well as other criteria.
“A large part of the success of this project was the powerful vision of Keith Cromwell, executive director for Red Mountain Theatre,” said Craig Krawczyk, president of Live Design Group. “Keith’s vision, along with the contributions from a great team of designers and consultants, made the transformative outcome possible. This award is truly a testament to the power of collaboration.”
Located in the Parkside District of Birmingham, Alabama, the project was a community-wide effort to provide a new home for the theatre, known for arts education, developing new work about societal topics such as human rights, and telling traditional stories from a diverse perspective.
The 53,000ft² facility has been adapted from a collection of 100-year-old mechanical supply warehouses into a vibrant performing arts campus that includes a 455-seat flexible theatre with reconfigurable cabaret seating, a black box theatre, four rehearsal rooms, costume shop, an education wing with a recording studio, and a donor’s lounge with reclaimed sliding fire doors. The non-profit theatre currently provides arts education to more than 17,000 kids from 72 zip codes and serves as an economic driver for the area hosting 75,000 patrons across 300 events annually.
“The heart of what we do as theatre planners and designers is to create homes for artists,” said Michael Ferguson, founding principal of TheatreDNA. “For this project, it’s about bringing the organisational family under one roof instead having rehearsal rooms, scene shops, and performance spaces spread throughout the city. Creating a cultural hearth that is practical, affordable, and large enough to accommodate everyone allows the Red Mountain Theatre staff to better serve their community and local artists.”