Founded in 1987, the South Carolina Children’s Theatre (SCCT) is the state’s largest year-round educational children’s theatre. Its mission and purpose is to “educate and stimulate the minds of young people” through theatre performance, education, and outreach with the goal to build character and prepare young people for an “engaged” life of success. To advance this mission, SCCT commissioned Craig Gaulden Davis to master plan and design its new headquarters in the heart of downtown Greenville.
With a 100-year land grant, SCCT requested a master plan to expand their programming and community outreach opportunities. The resulting master plan and design provides a 42,000 square foot facility featuring a 300-seat proscenium theater, 100-seat flexible stage theater, flexible performance classrooms, dressing rooms, costume shop, production studio and administration areas.
Within the boundaries of a 2-acre urban parcel, the design team detailed a visually compelling facility that embodies the mission of SCCT and instills “the transformational power of the arts.” With the surrounding properties predominately parking lots, the design transforms this void with a playful façade and streetscape. Set back from the road, an active plaza area is created for theatrical activities and community engagement to make the spirit of the children’s theater visible.
The building’s curving façade, colorful use of glass, and projecting concrete panels embodies the magic of theatre and imagination of children. The sound isolating concrete mass of the performance hall is shrouded by a tranquil, curvilinear façade. Subtle variations in vertically oriented surface materials support illustrative movement across the front elevation. Angled concrete monoliths, poised at the entryway, ground the entrance and block western light while allowing light play through acrylic filled cutouts. Curtain wall windows are designated for centrally located graphics while large format banners, visible from the street, hang more peripherally.
The lobby merges as an extension of the exterior as the curving wall interests the interior space. Colorful light passes thru the acrylic cutouts and unique views connects the patrons to the exterior. Like theatre, the experience of these elements dramatically change with each set as the curving geometry converges with the monolithic panels.
The main stage house and smaller theater are accessed through the lobby with accessible classrooms, dressing rooms, support studios and administrative offices. The geometry, adjacencies, and components of these spaces are designed to enhance the theatrical experience and to allow safe and accessible education. The Main Stage theatre and Second Stage design maximizes space for accessible viewing and performing. All technical areas are design to allow children to safely learn how to produce theatre. The classrooms are design for flexibility and performance for the evolution of curriculum and production.
With great consideration for SCCT’s vision, the new theater is an artful response to ensure future generations have equal access to community, cultural opportunities and engagement.
19 Washington ParkGreenville, SC 29601
2504 St. Paul Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
© 2021 Craig Gaulden Davis Architecture.
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