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Connecting a Community Details

LOCATION: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


CATEGORY: Community

BOOK: Design Studio Four

For decades the MAPS project has been a major focus in the development of the Oklahoma City community. The scope of the project has continued to expand and move further south from downtown, but a major issue has arisen in its place. Interstate 40 runs along the southern edge of downtown, splitting the community in two. One solution to this is to expand the planned Scissortail Park south of I-40 and create a large public green space of paths, vegetation, and fields. As this new park expands to the south of Skydance Bridge, a much needed connection is recreated in its presence. This performing arts center is a response to the MAPS project in an effort to further reconnect the now split community.

At the core of this performing arts center is the balance of the performance and community functions. The placement of the massing allows the community and performance functions to be integrated, connecting informal community activities and formal performances through an open plan. The site is integrated with the planned park through a large open space on the west and a passageway on the south which allows free movement through the building's massing, blending both outside and inside. This open space on the west creates an outdoor community area where visitors from the park or elsewhere can relax, eat, and play. The south facade is opened with heavy glazing and an exposed structural system that bows out towards the street, creating a strong connection between the street, the lobby, and the community spaces inside.

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    ARCH 3116 - Performing Arts Center, Connecting a Community, 2018

Project PDF's:

Connecting a Community-Project Board (PDF, Large File 19.0 MB)
Connecting a Community-Site Plan Board (PDF, Large File 20.6 MB)
Connecting a Community-Section and Levels Board (PDF, Large File 7.37 MB)
Connecting a Community-Courtyard and Interiors Board (PDF, Large File 26.6 MB)


For this OKC Scissortail Community Arts Center project, we were challenged to synthesize the design content covered in studio and the implementation of computational thinking process and parametric modeling skills in the design solution while at the same time consider the phenomenological aspects of kinesthetic and multi-sensory perception of the human body into architecture theory. The goal was to design a community performing arts center located adjacent to Oklahoma City’s Skydance Bridge and the lower section of Scissortail Park. Our client is not a single arts entity, but rather a collective of community organizations dedicated to bringing arts and community together. For this reason, the facility should have a broad appeal. In American’s "culturescape", a community performing arts center (CPAC) is often the anchor arts institution and a key contributor to local economic rejuvenation and healing. Scissortail Park (one project of the overall $777 million MAPS 3 projects) is a 70-acre urban oasis extending from the core of downtown Oklahoma City to the shore of the Oklahoma River. Design plans for the park call for everything from a cafe and sports facilities to a tranquil lake and nature walks. The Skydance Bridge will connect the north section of the park to the south section.

Interior Thrust Theatre

This space establishes the relationship between the viewer and the performer.

  • Stage - 1,200 SF: 40' wide x 20' deep with 12' deep thrust projection. This is the primary acting area. The stage should have an intimate relationship with the seating and be immediately adjacent to backstage areas. An orchestra pit is required and there should be a fly loft and trap door access under the stage.
  • Orchestra Pit - 225 SF: to accommodate 15 musicians @ 15sf each See research for acceptable depths.
  • Orchestra Pit Storage - 100 SF: should fit piano that can be wheeled into the pit.
  • Seating (House) - 3,500 SF: Provide seating for 250 people.

Exterior Performance Space

  • Sides / Back of Stage: Square footage will vary depending on layout. Waiting are for scenery changes and circulation area for performers. There should be an immediately adjacent area at least the size of the stage and circulation access for performers all around the stage and seating in certain cases.
  • Performer's Facilities - areas including dressing rooms, green room, restrooms, and rehearsal rooms.
  • Stage Dressing Rooms - 2,400 SF
  • Musician's Dressing Rooms - 600 SF: for change dress and storage of belongings for the musicians. Provide two separate areas, each with 10 large lockers and changing. Restrooms should have two toilets, two sinks, and one shower.
  • Lounge / Green Room - 300 SF: lounge for performers. Space should have daylight and be near the lobby. Easy access to the backstage is a plus. Provide a kitchenette. Sound should be isolated from the stage. Think of this as a living room.
  • Restrooms: 1 men's and 1 women's near the stage at stage level.
  • Rehearsal Room - 1,200 SF: room for stage rehearsals, multi-purpose rental events, and educational activities. This space should have daylight, a piano, and some storage within the designated area. It's noise should be isolated from the stage and house. Its' size and proportions should be as similar to the stages as possible.

Production Preparation and Storage

  • Loading - since this facility is a community space, loading is mostly used for deliveries and unloading of raw materials. Provide a loading dock for delivery truck. The truck should be able to back into a level spot and easily unload. It should have direct access to backstage area, preferably near scenery production.
  • Freight Elevator - needed if back stage area is on more than one level.
  • Scenery Production - 1,200 SF: to build, paint, and store sets. Should be adjacent to other backstage areas and very convenient access to stage and loading dock. Production area is full workshop with woodworking equipment and paint area which should be well ventilated.
  • Storage Paint Area - area to paint sets. Paint area should be well ventilated and separate from shop.
  • Prop Room - 300 SF: to store props from various shows. Have access through double doors.
  • Costume Production - 1,000 SF: area to make, wash, repair, and store costumes. Should be adjacent to other backstage areas and have daylight. Costume production should have a large table for cutting fabric, sewing stations, and fitting area. Laundry area should have washers and dryers and ironing or steaming space.
  • Storage - 400 SF: to store costumes from various shows. It should have access to costume production.

Technical Facilities

  • Booth - to house the sound and lighting technicians during a performance. This booth should be isolated acoustically, except for a slider window into the performance area that will give them direct visual access to the entire stage and optional acoustic access. This booth is usually higher portion of the seating.
  • Technical Storage - 100 SF: to store lighting and sound equipment. The storage should be adjacent to the booth Audience Support (Front-of-House).
  • These spaces serve patrons before and after a performance, during intermission, and sometimes at off-hours.
  • Drop-off - convenient vehicular area to drop off patrons. The area should be adjacent to the lobby and be able to accommodate a standard school bus. The theatre experience begins at parking or the drop-off. Even the skin of the building should precede the experience a patron will have inside. Going to the theater is a mixture of experiences of seeing live performances, socializing, drinking, schmoozing, and seeing who's who.
  • Marquee - signage that announces events and performances. The sign should be able to be read by both pedestrians and passing drivers. It can horizontally protrude outside of the lot line up to 5 feet and serve as an overhang above the entry.

Lobby area

  • Lobby - 2,500 SF
  • Box Office - 100 SF: a window with ADA access and where a patron can purchase tickets or pick them up before a performance. The window must easily be seen from the entrance and be open to the lobby. In a larger theatre, this would need its own space, but for our purposes, it can simply open to the receptionist in the administration area.
  • Coat Check - 100 SF: to check a coat or bag. It must be easily identified in the lobby and open to it. Disabled patrons should be able to use it.
  • Administrative Offices - 600 SF: This suite of spaces houses the administration that handles the daily operations of the theatre. Spaces include an office for: reception / box office, executive director, manager as well as a conference room for 20 people and work room. The admin area should have a separate entrance from the lobby entrance for access when lobby is occupied or closed.
  • Concessions - 400 SF: for patrons to purchase drinks and snacks during intermission or for a service are during an event. Space should be directly open onto the lobby and be adjacent to the catering kitchen.
  • Catering Kitchen - 200 SF: to support the needs of the concessions and caterers of other events. It should have direct adjacency to the concessions and a convenient, discreet relationship to the outside dumpster. The space should have a freezer refrigerator, and double-sink.

Community Coffee Cafe

  • Kitchen - 300 SF: to prepare food and receive deliveries for the cafe. Should be directly adjacent to the seating area, and have easy garbage disposal that does not go through pubic or dancer areas.
  • Restrooms - 200 SF: private restrooms for the cafe, 1 male, 1 female
  • Community Art Gallery - 1,000 SF: to display the artwork of local community artists. The space should be adjacent to the lobby; in some cases it might become part of the lobby as long as it can be secured. It should be open to the public during office hours. It must be day lit, but sunlight should not directly hit light sensitive artwork.
  • Main Public Restrooms

And, other requirements not listed here.