[EMBED] - Madison WI Performing Arts Center

Location: Masison, WI

Critic: Lonn Combs

Massing study

Urban Site and Context

Our site lies three blocks away from the capitol, along the fairly large E. Washington St. Immediately adjacent to the west is a large, government building, in a typical (but particularly unsightly) concrete Brutalist style. To the north and south lie two dense but not tall residential neighborhoods, and shortly thereafter the shore of the lake.

Section BB


The typical performance hall is meant to curate the performance within, allowing for complete user immersion. However, many such layouts lack a proper buffer, often with only a “lobby” serving the function of transition. Here, the design seeks to cultivate and nurture a more full and complete experience of the performance, allowing for the user to remove themselves, and yet still maintaining a secondary connection to the city.

Roof Plan / Textures Plan 0 (Ground level) Plan 1 (Main entry level)

The program features two main performance halls: a 500-seat concert hall, designed for primarily un-amplified music and voice, and a 5,000 sq ft Black Box theater. Auxiliary programs include a 5-star restaurant, Patron’s Suite, cafe, book store/gift shop, and extensive back-of-house space, including private practice rooms, fabrication shops, technical studios, and a full prep kitchen. Also included is roughly 10,000 sq ft of flexible gallery space.

Rendered view of southern entry

Formal Proposal

The two halls are extremely orthogonal, quite literally cubes within the site. These masses sit aligned with the grid of the city; however, the rest of the program is much more dynamic, torn apart and shifted to create a landscape of program and surface. These two halls are situated such that, regardless of entry, at least one can be seen directly, serving as long-term goals for movement inward.

Final model overview with context Final model east corner detail view Final model north corner detail view

Since the courtyard functions as this new heart, the typical “front” of the buildings is moved into the center. The new journey that emerges then serves as a new threshold, extending the typically short, straight journey from road to front door and allowing the user to become completely removed from the city at large.