The goal of the Chapman Cultural Center was to create a place identified by the community as a center for celebrating the arts and a place for them to flourish. Simultaneously, our client wanted a building that would create a civic presence appropriate for the site’s downtown context. In order to meet the client’s modest budget, the design team split the facility into 3 structures: two wings that house flexible loft-like space (with less expensive structural and mechanical systems and façades), and a theatre building that houses the theatre program and main public lobby. The decentralized arrangement creates an intimate but inviting plaza which fronts onto E St. John’s Street.
The 500-seat proscenium theater features a limestone façade, in contrast to the Center’s other two buildings, both constructed from brick. The use of limestone highlights the theater’s classical influences and also serves as a visual signal –it reminds the visitor of the special nature of the building and the importance of a public performance space in the promotion of the arts. The theater achieves multi-purpose acoustic functionality through the use of a perimeter-track curtain for variable acoustics and a sound system to allow amplification when desired. Primarily intended for the Arts Partnership’s adult and children’s theater group performances, the theater features a horseshoe shape design, and can also accommodate small orchestral and chamber group performances.
A key program component of the new performing arts center was to promote interaction between many different user groups; the 86,000 SF center houses an Art Museum, a History Museum, a Music Foundation, a Science Center, an Arts Guild, The Arts partnership of Greater Spartanburg, a ballet school and a 500-seat theatre. The flexible wing buildings of the Chapman Cultural Center allow for easy transition as program requirements change. The location of common areas provides each independent organization much greater amenities that would otherwise be possible.