Designing for Drama

by Nancy Hamilton, Ove Arup and Partners, 2440 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 180, Los Angeles, CA 90064,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1995, Vol. 65, Issue 8, Pg. 34-37

Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: Near the Passaic River in Newark, N.J., not far from the famous Iron Bound restaurant district and Newark's Penn Station, construction crews swarm around the steel skeleton of the Great Hall, which will be the centerpiece of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center due to open in mid-1997. The Great Hall will house a 2,750-seat performance space for theater, opera and concerts as well as a smaller 500-seat playhouse. While NJPAC board members whisper about equaling New York City's Lincoln Center, architects, engineers and contractors work on creating a flexible, multi-purpose hall that is both intimate and inviting. Adjustable ceiling and stage elements, innovative acoustics and the nation's first underfloor air supply in a theater setting are just some of the steps they've taken to meet their goal. Ultimately, the plan is for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center complex to be the cornerstone of a 12-acre economic development project that will cover the riverfront area and include a mix of office space, mixed-use development and arts-related uses. In addition to the construction of the Great Hall and the Victoria Theater, the $165 million first phase also includes the rehabilitation of Military Park and the creation of a plaza--dubbed Theater Square--that will front the Great Hall. Also, a parking garage at the northern end of Military Park will be renovated to create 1,100 spaces to serve the cultural buildings.

Subject Headings: Economic factors | Flexibility | Multiple purpose structures | New Jersey | Structural design |

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