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Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center and WYK Associates, Inc Receive American Institute of Architects 2019 Top Design Award
The Annual American Institute of Architects Award Ceremony was held Saturday, May 11, 2019 at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.
Clarksburg architecture firm WYK Associates, Inc was chosen as the recipients of the Honor Award for Excellence in Architecture for Historic Preservation and the Craftmanship Award for their work at the Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center.
According to AIA West Virginia President Adam Krason, the event is a celebration of architecture in West Virginia.
The Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center located in Clarksburg, WV had been closed for nearly twenty years. The City of Clarksburg purchased this "diamond-in-the-rough" in the Spring of 2014 to use as a mechanism to spur economic development within the historic downtown area. They acted quickly in their search for an architect to bring this jewel back to life! The city selected WYK Associates, Inc. for the task. WYK's predecessors were the architects for the 1939 Art Deco Style reconstruction of the interior post-fire. WYK built a stellar team of exceptional consultants. The best in their fields, WYK utilized the expertise of Westlake Reed Leskosky of Cleveland, OH for theatrical components, audiovisual and acoustical design; CAS Structural Engineering, and ZDS Design Consultants for HVAC, Electrical and Plumbing Design and Watkins Design Works for interior design, just to highlight a few.
Working closely with the WV State Historic Preservation Office (WVSHPO) from the onset of design, it was determined the interior would be treated as a rehabilitation while the exterior would be a historic restoration. The original building was approximately 30,000 S.F. The owner purchased a one-story adjacent building which would later be renovated into new concessions and restrooms. In addition, they also purchased two run-down properties on the northwest corner of the property, allowing for a 13,000 S.F. two story addition which houses new star and chorus dressing rooms, a new loading dock, mechanical space, elevator as well as a large multi-purpose space referred to as the Educational Center, with its own set of restrooms and prep kitchen. The overall complex now consists of over 45,000 S.F.
The extensive renovations and additions also called for a new east stair tower to allow for egress out of the balcony, a padded and climate-controlled room to store the new Steinway Concert Grand Piano, the electrical entrance and stage dimming rooms. The performance hall seats over 1,000 persons in new period-appropriate theatre seats. The facility has new HVAC, Electrical, Plumbing, Fire Protection, Sound, Stage Rigging, Roof, Masonry Restoration, Restrooms, Stage Curtains, LED Lighting, Lightning Protection, Circular Bar,
Barrel Vaulted Ballroom with Catering Kitchen, Two Elevators, State-of-the-Art Marquee and Blade Sign all equipped with LED Lighting and Reader Boards.
WYK prides itself on its restoration work. Given the nature of the building, meeting current ADA standards and building codes, alone, was a challenge. WYK also worked with poor soil conditions. Challenges were met and exceeded. The new additions had to be constructed on a system of 40' deep caissons, grade beams and structural slabs. The project’s construction cost was $16.5 million, however, the city received $6.5 million in historic and new market tax credits (state and federal).
After 4.5 years of meticulous research, planning and construction, the project held its grand opening in October of 2018 with "The Alley Cats" opening for Jay Leno and "The Guess Who" Band as headliners performing to a sell-out crowd of over 1,000 persons. With many of the adjacent businesses looking to capitalize on the opportunity by renovating and updating to entice the influx of theater patrons to stop in, as well as multiple new restaurants and retail businesses in the area opening, the ripple effect through the culture and economy of Clarksburg is undeniable.
James B. Swiger, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, BD+C served as the project architect for the building. WYK Associates, Inc. is a full-service architectural firm that has served North Central West Virginia in Harrison County dating back to 1900. The firm has won numerous design awards and is privileged to win the AIA West Virginia Honor Award for Excellence in Architecture for Historic Preservation.
Photo Credit: James Crim, Art by Crim Photography