Ent Center for the Arts nears completion of construction, details to be determined

April 11, 2017

Daniel McArdle

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     As the Ent Center for the Arts nears construction, many theater, music and visual art students look forward to the building that will house their respective majors.

     The Ent Center for the Arts will host student performances for the spring 2018 semester series once it has completed construction. The center is expected to open in January 2018.

     Students can go on a tour of the Ent Center for the Arts every Friday at 3:30 p.m. Colin McAllister, director of the Music Program at UCCS, and Matt Vineyard, construction manager for the project, lead the tour.

     Construction of the physical building is expected to be complete by late summer or early fall of 2017, according to Vineyard.

     Prior to performance debuts and student rehearsals, acousticians will spend two to three months tuning the five primary and two additional venues for the diverse demands of rehearsals and performances.

     The building, which sits at 92,000 square feet, remains within its original $60 million budget, $47 million of which is for construction, according to Vineyard. The project is funded from the state, the university, a bond program and from significant contributions by local donors.

     “For this kind of performance space, we really squeezed everything we could out of it,” said Vineyard.

     “It’s such a great value for what UCCS is getting out of it. All of these facilities that you’re seeing here are going to be real game-changers for the university and the city.”

     The main stage theater, named after Chancellor Emerita Pamela Shockley-Zalabak, will hold 786 seats and serve as a multi-purpose acoustic and visual space and will feature motorized stage extension.

     “It is set up so that it can be tuned to any sort of performance,” Vineyard explained.

     The center was designed with the needs of the city in mind as well, according to Vineyard.

     “That 700-800 was the ideal range when we first started planning. There’s not other venues of that size in Colorado Springs so it won’t compete with other venues, but will actually work to expand the shows that can come here,” Vineyard said. “That was largely the chancellor’s vision.”

     Planners hope that the tunnel connecting the Ent Center with the many businesses in the University Village Colorado shopping center across North Nevada Avenue will turn this end of town into a unified entertainment district.

     “That’s the result of years back of trying to make this a mutually beneficial relationship,” said Vineyard.

     “The growth plan is tied to the growth and needs of the community, so they’ve had a great master plan.”

     Free tour tickets can be purchased on the TheatreWorks website.

Dusty Loo Bon Vivant music performance room

     The 252-seat Dusty Loo Bon Vivant music performance room will be a technically versatile space for musical performances.

Those who signed up for the tour in The Dusty Lou Bon Vivant performance room. Photo by Garry Moyer

     According to Vineyard, the venue is structurally isolated from the rest of the building to guard against unwanted noise and vibrations. No rigid connection incorporates the room with the rest of the building.

     “Whether it’s a soloist or a 53-piece orchestra, the room can be tuned for the acoustic requirements of the performance,” said McAllister.

     “This will be as advanced or as good of a performing arts center as there is in Colorado.”

     Vineyard explained that the university partnered with experts far in advance to determine details, like the planned silver walls and number and thickness of the seats.

     “That’s the extent that we’ve gone to make this the perfect performance center,” said Vineyard.

     In August, McAllister will travel to New York to select the venue’s state of the art Steinway D 9-foot piano.

Gallery of Contemporary Art

     According to Vineyard, the new home for GOCA, which is currently located in Centennial Hall, will meet museum and gallery standards for art displays.

     The room’s capacity will expand the kinds of local and travelling art exhibits that can be displayed not only by UCCS but in Colorado Springs as well.

     The white room features extensive structural supports to hang artwork, and it will have humidity controls that are crucial for meeting gallery standards.

     “It just elevates what can be shown off and even what can be brought to the Springs,” said Vineyard.

Rehearsal Room

     The music rehearsal room will offer significant improvements over current facilities, and is a smaller version of the Dusty Loo, according to McAllister.

     Any student with an instrument that needs to be stored will have access to a locker, and the room will have professional padded performance chairs.

Upper level

     The upper level is devoted to education rather than performance. It will house the offices of the university’s art departments in a single hallway, so collaboration among the different disciplines will be enhanced.

     The upstairs practice rooms and offices each have at least one slanted wall, which will reflect sound as hearing protection for students. The rooms are also highly isolated to prevent unwanted crossover sound and vibrations.

      “All the way down to the outlets, there’s not even a wire that continues from one room to the other,” Vineyard explained.

     “So you can have two pianos in one room and guitars in another, and drummers practicing in the next and none of that sound will bleed over,” said McAllister.

     The upstairs dance rehearsal room is positioned above North Nevada Avenue, where dance rehearsals will be visible.