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No-show theatre architects prove to be Johnnies-come-lately.

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  • mrcooby
    Scott Georgeson says he remembers a theater conference five years ago where no technicians showed up for the architecture sessions. But those same technicians
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 6, 2009
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      Scott Georgeson says he remembers a theater conference five years ago
      where no technicians showed up for the architecture sessions.


      But those same technicians -- lighting designers, set designers and
      theater managers --pointed out the flaws of building designs during the
      conference's theater tours, said Georgeson, senior associate and
      theater architect for HGA Architects and Engineers, Milwaukee.

      "We basically develop all of the space that they do their art
      in," he said, "and then they would complain about
      everything."

      It was that disconnect that prompted Georgeson and his fellow architects
      at the United States Institute for Theatre Technology Inc. to create a
      competition in which college architectural and theater students
      collaborate to design theaters. In the Ideal Theatre student
      competition, architects tailor space for particular performance needs
      while satisfying the landmark design expected in theaters.

      The idea is to get architects thinking about molding designs around
      performance operations and equipment and to get technicians thinking
      about how to influence blueprints, said Georgeson, whose Wisconsin
      projects include the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, The Skylight in
      Milwaukee and the Peninsula Players theatre in Fish Creek.

      "It really is unique," he said, "in that it is one of the
      few, if not the only, (competition) that actually asks the clients -- in
      this case, theater students -- to provide input."

      The competition got the USITT Architectural Commission more involved in
      the overall operations of the organization, said Raymond Kent, vice
      commissioner of special projects for the commission and director of
      innovative technological design in the Cleveland office of architecture
      firm Westlake Reed Leskosky.

      "People didn't really know what we did, and they thought we were
      a bunch of stuffy architects that sat in a room and talked about
      lobbies, pretty lobbies," Kent said. "It's getting people
      involved in the design of performing and cultural arts centers that
      maybe didn't know we existed."

      Unlike an office or apartment building with box designs upon box
      designs, a theater requires 3-D thinking to balance the needs of the
      stage, balconies and audience floor, Georgeson said. Architects must be
      sure the space lets crowds flow in and out. Stage areas must let
      stagehands work in close quarters in the dark.

      And, with the popularity of Cirque du Soleil, every stage must have
      enough rigging for lights and to help actors or props fly, Georgeson
      said.

      "We do try to make the technology blend with the spirit of the
      architectural design," he said.

      Georgeson said the goal of any theater design should be to seamlessly
      combine function with architectural form.

      "That's the art," he said, "when you don't know
      there was a compromise."



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