A new performing arts center for student use re-imagines an historic train depot in Lowell MA as a vibrant piece of the city, restoring the old structure and celebrating the new.
To accommodate a proscenium theater, music recital hall, and a dance studio, a simple egg-shaped volume is inserted within the 1876 brick shell. The major space in the “egg” is a 177-seat theater, that descends from the first floor lobby into the basement creating a tall compact audience space with excellent sight lines. The efficient curved shape of the new insertion serves as the structural core of the building, supporting both new spaces as well as bringing the deteriorating historic structure into compliance with modern codes.
To create a fully functioning theater and other performing spaces, the design called for the excavation and construction of a new basement built on the bedrock and a new wing in the back, housing the mechanical and support spaces. These additions nearly double the area available within the building for the College’s vibrant and growing music, theater and dance departments. The departments are dedicated to teaching the art and craft of the performing arts. Each major teaching space combines a professional level technological environment with the intimate scale appropriate for student performance.
The site of the new performing arts center, within the Lowell National Historic Park, is part of the renewed urban core. The new Richard and Nancy Donahue Family Academic Arts Center will serve as a catalyst for future urban development and will cement the College’s commitment to an urban campus.