Oberlin College Celebrates Eric Baker Nord Performing Arts Annex Opening
Oberlin College will celebrate the opening of the Eric Baker Nord Performing Arts Annex in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on December 13. The Performing Arts Annex is part of a multi-phased design that includes the newly-completed Irene and Alan Wurtzel Theater. Nestled alongside the Neo-Expressionist Hall Auditorium, this highly adaptable space encompasses nearly 24,000 SF and serves as a multi-form home for Oberlin’s theater, dance, and opera departments. We partnered with Marous Brothers Construction to serve as the designer for the design-build delivery of the project.
Modernizing Historic Structures for Contemporary Performances
Our design is a contemporary addition to the original 1956 landmark. Addressing the auditorium’s current limitations of size and accessibility, the design brings the complex up to contemporary standards while maintaining the modernist structure and establishing continuity between new and old venues. “Hall Auditorium is an historic, locally significant icon,” explains Senior Principal and Global Cultural+Performing Arts Leader Paul Westlake, FAIA. “Typical of theaters of the era, the public and production sides of Hall Auditorium had become grossly undersized and standards of accessibility had become outdated. Our design solution upholds the prominence of the original building and brings the space into the 21st century.”
An Adaptable Theater with Innovative Technology Design
Our in-house comprehensive theater specialties group, the Innovative Technology Design Group, provided planning and design to bring modernized acoustic, audiovisual , and theater technical elements to the new, adaptable Irene and Alan Wurtzel Theater. Working in tandem with the architectural and engineering teams, ITDG designers detailed new technology solutions to complement the facility’s existing technology and replace aging systems.
Acoustic work includes mechanical, electrical, and plumbing noise and vibration control design; sound isolation design to allow the adaptable theater to operate simultaneously with the existing Hall Auditorium; and room acoustic design to promote voice projection, speech clarity, and audio system fidelity in the adaptable theater, as well as the rehearsal space.
Enhanced A/V elements include distributed audio systems, video distribution capabilities, production intercom systems, video projection systems, and performance audio systems that are flexible and portable for various configurations.
Theater technical design for the adaptable theater includes a comprehensive integrated lighting control system that allows for operation of venue lighting through wall stations or lighting consoles; distributed power and data connections for performance lighting; new inventory of performance lighting fixtures; house and stage masking drapery; portable modular seating riser system with integrated step lighting to allow for multiple seating configurations; and a catwalk system with supplementary rigging pipes for hanging lighting, drapery, scenery, audio, and other production needs.
New Spaces for Performance Exploration and Engagement
Central to the theater is its adaptable design, which provides new performance opportunities for faculty and students by expanding the types of productions the college’s theater, dance, and opera departments can offer. Before the Performing Arts Annex, the college’s theater and dance departments would have to host their 15-to-18 yearly performances in either the 550-seat Hall Auditorium or the Little Theatre, which has an 80-seat audience capacity.
The theater addition to the Eric Baker Nord Performing Arts Annex offers the campus and the greater Northeast Ohio area with a flexible, medium-sized venue where performers can experiment with new types of productions, and students can explore modern curriculum. Thanks to its adaptable design, seating in the multi-form theater can be reconfigured around the stage rather than directly in front of it, shifting the dynamic, approach, and sightlines between the audience and the performers.
Oberlin College President Carmen Twillie Ambar says Oberlin’s thriving theater, opera, and dance departments will benefit from this new ability to stage innovative productions, and the theater will help them attract talented students. “We are grateful for the support of the Eric & Jane Nord Family Fund, and all the donors who have made a commitment to Oberlin’s artistic excellence,” says Twillie Ambar. “[The addition] raises Oberlin’s profile as a premier performing arts venue in Northeast Ohio.”
In addition to the adaptable theater, the Eric Baker Nord Performing Arts Annex also boasts a new lobby and event space, rehearsal space, dressing rooms, and scene and costume shops shared by both stagehouses, as well as classrooms, labs, and studios for acting and the arts. The theater completes yet another phase of our Green Arts District Master Plan for Oberlin. Other projects completed by our firm as part of the master plan include the newly LEED Platinum-certified Birenbaum Innovation and Performance Space, the award-winning Film Studies facility in the original Apollo Theatre, and the renovation study for the Hall Auditorium.
Fast Company Innovation by Design Names DLR Group for Three Awards
DLR Group receives a finalist designation and honorable mentions in the Sustainable and Experience Design categories.
A New Resource for Business Development in Denver
Pamela Tribbett joins the K-12 Education studio to focus on meeting the educational facility needs of regional school districts and communities.
DLR Group Architect Named At-Large Director to AIA Board
Senior Associate Korey White, AIA, has been elected to the American Institute of Architects National Board of Directors as 2023 - 2025 At-Large Director.
DLR Group Welcomes K-12 Education Client Leader in North Carolina
The firm’s newest K-12 Education Client Leader, Julie McLaurin, AIA, NCARB, will lead teams to meet the critical needs of communities in the Carolinas.
HUB Fullerton to Open its Doors to Students in 2025
A six-story residential building will redefine student housing for California State University-Fullerton, Hope International University, and Pacific Christian College.
DLR Group Represents USA’s bid for World’s Expo in 2027
In anticipation of the next World’s Fair, we are representing the USA’s bid to host the Expo in Minneapolis as the project’s designer.
In The Media
The New European Bauhaus: An Opportunity to Revisit the Way We Think About Prisons
Marayca Lopez dives in to what the New European Bauhaus means for the future of correctional facilities with Justice Trends.
Here to There: A Journal to Excellence and Equity in Philadelphia
Troy Glover’s piece in Essentials magazine shows how systemic change in planning, design, and construction results in equitable environments for students.
Nine Workplace Design Considerations to Elevate Your Enterprise
Jonathan Grefaldon talked with D Magazine on the nine considerations our designers discuss to create the perfect workplace for every stakeholder.
Unlocked Doors Were "First Line of Defense" at Uvalde School
Todd Ferking talks with the Associated Press on functional and historical issues that contributed to the tragedy at Uvalde.
Northern Arizona University Student-Athlete High Performance Center featured on ArchDaily
ArchDaily explores Northern Arizona University Student-Athlete High-Performance Center, a state-of-the-art training facility designed to attract top student-athletes and focused on wellness and development.