PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Moses Brown School, a college preparatory school located in Providence, is currently constructing a 25,295-square-foot facility that will serve as the hub of academic, artistic, social and spiritual life on the school’s campus. With an estimated completion date in late 2016, the Woodman Family Community and Performance Center, a School Construction News 2016 Project to Watch, will replace the school’s current 150-year-old Alumni Hall and provide a venue for school events and shows, and serve as a gathering place for students and families.
The project team includes Durkee, Brown, Viveiros & Werenfels Architects of Providence and construction manager Shawmut Design & Construction headquartered in Boston.
A Need for Expansion
The addition of the Woodman Family Community and Performance Center was necessary to update and expand current multifunction space on the Moses Brown campus. The multi-use facility will include a main hall that is capable of holding up to 540 people for performances, exhibitions, workshops and other school and community activities. Upon its completion, Moses Brown will be able to house its entire upper school, grades 9-12, in one space.
The existing space, the 150-year-old Alumni Hall, which serves as the school’s primary performance and assembly space, does not provide much flexibility, a factor which heavily influenced the design of the new center. In contrast, the new space will improve on sight lines and acoustics while also providing a space suited to a variety of uses.
When the new facility is complete, its basement will serve as the campus’s boiler and heat plant, replacing the old steam plant that is currently located next to the lower school. The movement of the heat plant to under the community center will allow for a potential expansion or addition to the lower school in the future.
Flexible Design Elements
The new facility will provide many amenities including a café, circulation space, classrooms, theater support space and an outdoor gathering area for the community, allowing for ultimate flexibility. The construction team is also installing the NIVOflex platform system and telescoping seating systems, which has the ability to retract to or recess according to an event’s specific flooring or seating need.
“The Woodman Center will be like no other building in this region,” said Michael Viveiros, principal in charge of design for Durkee, Brown, Viveiros & Werenfels Architects, in a statement. “The unique telescoping seating and hydraulic flooring allow an audience of 475 in raked theater-style seating for performances, and can quickly transform to a flat-floored exhibition hall for community gatherings.”
Interior Design Considerations
As the Woodman Family Community and Performance Center will serve as the school’s performing arts facility, the design team implemented specific materials to ensure high quality operations, acoustics and durability.
In the theater, the team is installing durable and lightweight flooring, and in areas of the main theater fabric wall panels will help absorb sound. Acoustical reflector panels on the ceiling will help deflect sound from the stage into the audience.
The performance center’s HVAC system has been designed to minimize sound, and the walls provide superior acoustical separation and limit sound transmission between the different sections of the center.
The building will also feature many green elements such as low-flow plumbing fixtures, LED lighting, high-efficiency hot water heaters, solar shades, daylight harvesting systems, enhanced lighting controls, stormwater runoff mitigation, infrastructure for future solar panels and a building envelope performance that goes above code.
The coordination of various complex systems and the procurement of some of the materials, with many coming from Europe, as well as maintaining a level of high quality finishes and acoustics, has been a challenge. To ensure the center includes the ideal materials and finishes, the construction team has worked closely with the design team and subcontractors to resolve any coordination issues. The design and construction teams have used 3D modeling during weekly meetings to help expedite submittal reviews to quickly approve product selection.
Architect: Durkee, Brown, Viveiros & Werenfels Architects
Owner’s Representative: DEC Consulting Company, LLC
Construction Manager: Shawmut Design & Construction
Theatre Consultant: Theatre Project Consultants
Structural Engineer: Odeh Engineers, Inc.
Mechanical/Plumbing/Fire Protection Engineer: Wilkinson & Associates, Inc.
Electrical & Central Boiler Plant Mechanical, Plumbing Engineer: Garcia, Galuska & DeSousa
Civil Engineer: Caputo and Wick Ltd.
Acoustical & Audio Visual Engineer: Acentech Inc.
Geotechnical Engineer: Paul B. Aldinger & Associates
Commissioning Agent: Stephen Turner Inc.