The new 30,000 square foot Performing Arts Center at Harlingen C.I.S.D., designed by John Pearcy, architect, and Meg Jorn, designer, of Megamorphosis Architecture and Design, with input from the PAC Design Committee, made up of members of the board, community, high school theater and music faculty, and administrators. In the Spring of 2011 the Design Committee toured a number of performing arts facilities in Austin, San Antonio, and the Rio Grande Valley. The functionality of the center located in Hayes CISD was of particular interest because of its stadium seating, acoustics, and multipurpose rooms, which allowed for rehearsals and UIL competitions.
The design concept is a blending of traditional Mexican culture with contemporary designs. It is centered around the theme of a Talavera tile pattern, found on the mural at the front of the building and Saltillo tile, which served as a basis for creating the color palate found throughout the Performing Arts Center. This theme is even found in the restrooms off the lobby, where imported Mexican Talavera tiles border the sink areas and where travertine counters were installed.
The facility includes a ticket booth and concession stand area designed in a distinctive conical shape, a 956-seat capacity auditorium, two 2000 s.f. multi-purpose rooms, a “green room” – a 1000 s.f. multipurpose room, men’s and women’s dressing rooms and restrooms, a percussion storage room, offices, and storage areas. A feature important to performing artists, is also the dock area, large enough to haul in equipment, instruments, and stage sets directly onto the stage.
The 4800 s.f. stage provides performers with large wings in which to prepare for entering the stage area and to store props, scenery, and equipment used in the performance. There is also a storage room dedicated to grand piano storage with specialized climate and humidity control systems. A second storage closet holds three upright pianos to be used in the multipurpose rooms or on stage. Boston label Pianos were purchased from Steinway of San Antonio and are available for performances.
An orchestra Pit allows for instrumentalists to play from the area beneath the stage during a musical, or can be an extra set up area for performers. Recently, this was used for special reserved seating.
Sound-proofing was also important to the Design Committee. Since there will be many occasions for multiple rooms being used simultaneously, additional steps were taken to prevent sound from travelling into or out of the multipurpose rooms and auditorium. For one, the air conditioning ducts have extra insulation so as not to disturb performances and units are placed away from the auditorium and stage. The multipurpose rooms have two doors so that rehearsals or contests are not disturbed by sound when someone enters or exits the room. And, there is additional sound-proofing materials in the walls of the stage, auditorium, and multipurpose rooms.
The design committee wanted a facility that is inclusive of visual arts by providing space in the lobby and along the west corridor for displaying student art work. Another user-friendly feature is found in the outdoor space provided on the west side, where there are patios for picnic tables and an arbor area with newly planted trees.
The Ground-Breaking ceremony was held on April 25, 2012 and construction was on its way. The PAC Planning committee began meeting to determine guidelines for usage and recommend policies, staffing, equipment and additional needs for opening the facility. The overarching mission is to provide a user-friendly performance space that contributes to quality fine arts education and challenges students and communities to a high standard of performance.
The State-of-the-Art Technology Systems and Acoustics in the Auditorium were designed by Rene Garza of WJHS, San Antonio. The excellent acoustics found in the performance hall will contribute to the high standard of performance Harlingen C.I.S.D. enjoys. Note the acoustical wood panels in the auditorium, which serves as a beautiful feature, while also serving the function of improving the quality of sound for performers and audience members.