Western Connecticut State University Visual & Performing Arts Center Theatre Design

August 1, 2014
For years, the Theatre Department at WCSU has been doing terrific work under far-from-ideal conditions. Initial planning for a new building began in 2003. With the opening of the Visual and Performing Arts Center, the teachers, performers, directors, designers and technicians finally have a facility equal to their talents.

The Center's facilities include: Proper scenery and costume shops for instruction and construction. A large rehearsal space, which can also serve as a "black box" studio theatre for informal performances. Smaller rehearsal spaces for scene work and classes.

The department's centerpiece and the performance companion to the Music Department's Concert Hall is the proscenium theatre.

At 350 seats, the theatre has the ideal audience capacity a decent size, but not too large. An otherwise wonderful student performance might be lost or overwhelmed in a larger space. With its small balcony and side seating galleries, the theatre is designed to foster a dynamic, intimate relationship between the performer and the audience.

The theatre's 80-foot-wide stage and state-of-the-art equipment can meet the demands of any production, from the simplest to the most technically ambitious. There are 56 rigging pipes, and 70 feet of fly space, with a walkable gridiron. The stage lighting system has 480 dimmers, and a control data network to operate contemporary "moving lights" and effects equipment. Overhead catwalks provide safe and convenient access for hanging and focusing lights. A motorized lift can create either a stage extension or an orchestra pit.

Dressing rooms and a green room/lounge provide comfortable accommodations for performers and crew.  In general, the building design recognizes that students and staff spend long hours in the Center (many more than the audience!), and that it was important to provide a pleasant working environment, with natural light wherever possible.

Fisher Dachs Associates consults on many different types of theatre projects, including multi-million dollar urban performing arts centers.  But projects like this which foster education and interest in the performing arts are among the most important to us. We are proud to have had a role in design and construction of the WCSU Visual and Performing Arts Center.

Joe Mobilia, Associate Principal
Fisher Dachs Associates Theatre Planning and Design
For wcsu.edu