Sheridan College — Whitney Center for the Arts
In August 2014, Sheridan College and Whitney Benefits asked Cushing Terrell to design their new music and art center. The work was completed in the fall of 2016 and included demolishing the structurally deficient Art & Music wing, renovating an outdated gym and presentation hall into music practice rooms, adding new art studios and workshops, and building a new 422-seat concert hall. The $18 million construction budget included 12,000 sq. ft. of renovation and 48,000 sq. ft. of new construction. Cushing Terrell partnered with Dick Anderson Construction as the construction-manager-at-risk, acoustical engineer Shen Milsom Wilke, civil engineer Morrison Maierle, and local architect Arete Design Group for construction administration.
Sheridan, WY, has a rich history of the western arts and is considered the artistic hub for the Bighorn Mountain region. In an effort to promote and develop local talent, the college tasked us with designing a building that would “Help Students Find their Voice” through the arts. We found our design inspiration in the ability to leverage the interdisciplinary opportunities between visual and performance art.
In the music wing, we designed acoustically-proper teaching spaces that adapt to small-scale recital spaces, and located them adjacent to the concert hall for easy transportation of large instruments. Rooms feature sound isolation and acoustical absorption, instrument lockers, and furniture that equally accommodates performers and audience members.
For the art wing, we created studios and workshops that are flexible for multiple uses while providing proper environmental containment of the messiness that comes with art creation. Each studio is provided with quality north daylight, proper durable storage, plywood walls painted white for tacking and nailing, and negatively-pressured air supply for particle containment.
Our largest challenge was the 422-seat performance hall. We designed the space to primarily function as a concert hall that could be adapted for theatrical productions. Adjustable acoustical baffles were designed into the wall that can mechanically move up or down, changing the reverb rate within the room and allowing the room to be tuned to the style of performance. The adjustable proscenium stage has a motorized fly system and a hydraulically-convertible orchestra pit. Audience seating was sized (multiple seat sizes for multiple people sizes!) and arranged so every seat has a clear view of center stage.
With the broad expanse of program in the building, we found in the circulation and lobby space a design opportunity to leverage the intersection of performance art and visual art, connecting them to general students and attendees of large gatherings. A secure art gallery is placed next to the concert hall to engage audiences before shows and during intermissions. The west lobby interacts with the visual arts through student gallery space and a multimedia projector wall. The east lobby connects with the landscape of the south end of the Whitney Pedestrian Mall.