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Performing Arts Center

Northeast Perspective Gallery space Gallery space Gallery space

Although the need for a performing arts center at Western Illinois University was first recognized over three decades ago, concrete plans are now in place to build the facility. The proposed performing art center will be a capable facility for local and traveling productions, as well as, support the academic mission of the College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC).

The Performing Art Center will feature three venues allowing three separate productions to perform simultaneously. The Proscenium Theatre, the largest of the venues, will seat up to 1,400 patrons. A Thrust Stage Theatre will seat 250 and a Black Box Theatre, 150.

Located immediately south of Browne Hall, the proposed 130,000 square foot building will relocate COFAC activities currently scattered around campus to a central location. The result will be a reinforced arts and communication quad in the southwest quadrant of campus. Academic and rehearsal spaces cover over 7,600 square feet of the proposed building. Rehearsal spaces are included for theatre, ensemble, dance, jazz, and percussion activities.

A 5,500 square foot gallery space will facilitate artwork exhibitions. The gallery runs east and west through the building, allowing students and other members of the community to pass through the building on a walk across campus. Two lounges encourage student and community members to linger in the facility for gatherings. A semi-truck dock and bus loading station will accommodate loading and unloading of touring theatre companies and orchestras. Other supporting spaces include concessions, a gift shop, a scene shop and COFAC administrative offices.

In support of WIU’s commitment to sustainability, the project will pursue LEED Silver certification through the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the construction industry standard for measuring and certifying environmentally favorable building practices. The Performing Art Center design documents will be submitted for review by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) for consideration once the documents are approved by the state.

A team of nine architectural and engineering firms will work twelve months to produce construction drawings and specifications to be solicited for competitive bidding in the Fall of 2012. Contractors will be selected in accordance with Illinois procurement procedures and construction is scheduled to start in early 2013. The construction phase is expected to last 28 months with a targeted completion of summer 2015. Schedule permitting, the Performing Art Center will be open for occupancy fall semester 2015.

Preliminary estimates expect the project to cost $67.8 million including design and construction fees. Substantial portions of the budget have been allocated by the state, and other fundraising opportunities have become available. All three performance venues, all rehearsal spaces, the gallery, scene shop, lounges, VIP room, and green rooms will all be available for commemorative naming. Naming opportunities for the venues and other spaces range from $50,000 to $7.5 million.

Patrons will also have the opportunity to purchase commemorative naming rights to seats in the Proscenium Theatre and Thrust Theatre. Seat naming opportunities range from $250 to $1000. Discounts are available for multiple seat purchases. A commemorative plaque will designate each named seat.

Cannon Design, Chicago IL was chosen as the project Architect of Record. An additional eight architectural and engineering firms were enlisted as consultants in the design of the building: Pelli, Clark Pelli, New Haven, CT; Theatre Project Consultants, Norwalk, CT; Kirkegaard Assoc., Chicago, IL; Affiliated Engineers Inc., Madison, WI; Thornton Thomasetti Inc., Chicago, IL; David Mason Assoc., Chicago, IL; Hitchcock Design Group, Chicago, IL; and KJWW Engineering Consultants, Rock Island, IL.