Oregon State University Arts & Education Complex

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The new Arts and Education Complex (AEC) at Oregon State University brings together music, theater, digital communications, and the visual arts to create a campus centerpiece and gateway for culture and creativity. The building supports university goals of moving from a STEM to STEAM education model and provides additional performance and event space on campus. The complex is a comprehensive education and performance facility with a 500-seat recital hall, black box theater, flexible art gallery, and customized support spaces. Additionally, the AEC includes the renovation of an adjacent historic structure for rehearsal and classroom functions and a site design configured for outdoor performance and public gathering.

The new facility eschews traditional front-of-house and back-of-house separations, instead weaving student performance and learning spaces throughout the building. The design prioritizes the student experience and aims to highlight learning as part of the performance process. The architecture supports the idea of collapsing distinctions between audience and performer, rehearsal and performance, and OSU students and the public.

The building materials reflect the dual learning and performance environment, distinguishing the AEC as a dynamic entry to the southeast corner of the campus. Dark-stained wood at the exterior wraps around public spaces with natural-stained reveals at windows and entrances. The warm wood contrasts with a neutral masonry cladding that references the historical brick architecture on campus. Inside, a linear lobby carves through the building, gracefully transitioning from refined wood paneling at the north entrance to expressed steel structure at the south end.

The Arts & Education Complex will provide a new gateway to campus at the intersection of 15th Street and Washington Way.

Efficiency requirements necessitated flexibility and multi-functionality in every part of the complex. Backstage spaces like dressing and green rooms double as classrooms. In the lobby, the “student heart” tiered seating space is a student lounge, ad hoc performance space, and waiting area for patrons. An outdoor performance stage breaks down barriers for engaging with the arts, inviting passers-by to be a part of the AEC.

The recital hall embodies the contrasting building uses and materials with a raw, yet thoughtfully detailed, industrial lobby space that leads into a warm, intimate performance space. Bright wood fins of varying depth are calibrated for acoustics, reflecting higher frequency sound. Dropped acoustical banners in the ceiling are adjustable for different types of music. The large stage accommodates a range of performances from soloists to a 100-person chorus.

In addition to the new facility, the neighboring Rehearsal Classroom Building will be reconfigured to accommodate up to 80 students for choral rehearsal and music history classes. Built in 1910 as the original heat plant for campus, the building is a part of the Corvallis Historic District and required close coordination with the Corvallis Historic Commission to restore the character and appearance of the building. The renovation will include upgraded seismic and structural systems, new windows, and a new configuration of interior spaces.

The black box theater features flexible seating that can be reconfigured for a range of performance and event types.

The art gallery features sophisticated building systems that meet the stringent requirements for traveling exhibits. It will be utilized to showcase premier art exhibits on campus.

Client

Oregon State University

Location

Corvallis, OR

Completion

2023, expected

Size

53,400 sf