The Performance Center seats nearly 300 in cushioned, accessible seating and features clear sight lines, a thrust stage including a 12’x12’ floor trap, light walls containing thousands of LED lights with a full spectrum of colors, three permanent balconies used as staging areas, and a Steinway concert grand piano made specifically for the center.
Spacious dressing and green rooms are only the beginning of behind-the-scenes advances. In design and technology, students are exposed to new and innovative techniques, supported by a state-of-the-art design studio and all new production shops that also opened on campus in 2014.
The Performance Center was designed by Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture of New York, designer of USI’s campus landmark, The Cone. Some of the Performance Center design features include:
Can Clay Corporation Clay Pipe
For 104 years, the Can Clay Corporation of Cannelton, Indiana, has produced clay for underground utility and sewer piping. It is typically fired at 2,000 degrees over the course of seven days. Twelve and 14-foot lengths of the 21-inch diameter CanOlok vitrified clay pipe are erected vertically to enclose structural steel columns.
Jasper Chair Company Chair Legs
The Jasper Chair Company, of Jasper, Indiana, has manufactured wood chairs from their own woodland since 1921. Twelve hundred steam-bent chair legs have been assembled and stained to form rosettes suspended from the lobby ceiling. The same chair legs are used in the donor recognition display in the second floor lobby.
The red sandstone on the exterior and interior walls is from Brazil, Indiana, and pays homage to the Smithsonian Institution’s Castle. Built in 1855, the castle is the oldest building on the National Mall. Congressman Robert Dale Owen (son of Robert Owen, founder of the second utopian experiment at New Harmony, Indiana) was chair of the Smithsonian Building Committee. His brother, geologist David Dale Owen, recommended it be built from red sandstone. Both Owens resided in New Harmony for a time, and USI is one of the sponsors of Historic New Harmony, an initiative to create and retain interest in the history and current life of New Harmony.
Toyota Sienna Dash Panels
Thirty-five Sienna dash panels, a generous gift from Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Inc., of Princeton, Indiana, form part of the acoustical environment for the Performance Center. These panels serve as reflective surfaces just below the catwalk rings at ceiling level. They direct reflective sound and provide better speech intelligibility for the audience and performers.
Donor Recognition Display
A donor recognition display, designed by former USI student Matt Wagner of Matt Wagner Design in Evansville, will soon be installed. It was made by Grandview Aluminum Products, Inc., Grandview, Indiana, in association with Sign-A-Rama, Evansville, Indiana. Located in the second floor lobby, it features recycled aluminum, as well as Jasper (Indiana) Chair Company chair legs.
Thrust Stage with Light Wall
The theatre features a thrust stage with additional staging areas incorporated into the walls, a shallow proscenium to allow for greater sightlines, exceptional natural acoustics, and state-of-the-art light and sound technology. The light wall contains thousands of LED lights with a full spectrum of colors.