Performing Arts

Western Illinois University Center for Performing Arts

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Macomb, Illinois, USA
126,000 square feet / 12,000 square meters

The Western Illinois University Center for Performing Arts will be a cultural center for university and for the region. In addition to performances of music, dance and theater, the building will host university functions and events for the community.

The building comprises two wings connected by a long, gallery-like lobby. Each wing is a set of cantilevered forms clad in light-colored brick. The dance studios and jazz rehearsal room project from the east and west sides of the building. Large windows reveal their interiors, each a different color. The thrust and studio theaters also project from the facades, while the flyloft of the largest theater rises above the building. The flyloft will be lit at night.

The smaller north wing contains a 250-seat theater with thrust stage and a 150-seat studio theater, along with scenery and costume shops, dressing rooms and administrative offices. The wing to the south includes a 1,400-seat proscenium theater, large and small rehearsal rooms for dance and music, and technical and performer support spaces for the proscenium theater. A loading dock for the larger theater will accommodate trucks and buses for professional touring companies and orchestras.

Between the two wings, the glass-walled gallery offers views of the quadrangles to the north and south. This two-story space will be a gathering place for students and teachers during the day and for performance-goers at night. As part of an art-in-architecture program, its terrazzo floor may be designed in conjunction with Illinois artists.

The Performing Arts Center will unify the performance and instruction spaces of the College of Fine Arts and Communications. The new building will directly connect to Browne Hall, which contains department offices, classrooms and the Hainline Theatre. Connecting the two buildings will create a small exterior courtyard. The new building’s placement near existing buildings defines three other outdoor public spaces: a new arts quad between Browne and Memorial halls; a quad that joins Tillman, Memorial and Simpkins halls, and a quad that opens to the community on Western Avenue.