Kennedy High School Black Box Theatre Addition Kennedy High School Black Box Theatre Addition

Kennedy High School Black Box Theatre

Challenge

The district was looking for a unique theatre designed to engage the audience and create the intimacy possible in an alternative theatre setting. The theatre needed to be designed for presentations to audiences in a variety of flexible configurations: round/arena, thrust, or small end productions with the ability to adapt gracefully to other needs in the future.

Solution

The black box design concept is a natural solution to these program needs. The theatre’s large open main level space, which is 64 feet long by 64 feet wide by 30 feet high, provides a great degree of flexibility. The seating capacity ranges from 240 to 300 depending on the configuration. The performing area is 20 feet by 20 feet in the round and up to 20 feet by 60 feet in an end wall arrangement. A perimeter curtain arrangement allows actors to move freely to all entrance locations undetected by the audience. Above the performance area is the heart of the theatre’s support system, the technical level. The 3,200-square-foot technical level has a light/sound booth and a grid of catwalks above the performance area allowing freedom for activities below. Support facilities include a 1,100-square-foot lobby/entrance, ticket booth/office, mechanical space and an elevator providing accessibility between the new lower lobby/entrance and the existing auditorium lobby and existing set shop.

Impact

The black box theater is a unique teaching venue that offers students multiple options for theater productions. Students now have hands on access to sophisticated technical equipment for high school performances.

This project was the winner of an Engineering Excellence Award from the Consulting Engineers Council of Iowa in 2004.
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