Greenwich High School Performing Arts Center opening

The newly constructed Greenwich High School (GHS) Performing Arts Center (PAC) received its Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO), allowing for the use of the performance areas. For the last two weeks, classes have been held on the stage and in the support spaces, but this latest approval opens the seating areas in the new auditorium.

Dr. William McKersie, Superintendent of Greenwich Public Schools stated, “The Music Instructional Space and Auditorium Building Committee and all of Greenwich should be applauded for creating this incredible venue for students, families, and the community. Quality performing arts has long been synonymous with Greenwich. We now have a performance space that allows our student groups to properly showcase their talents.”

A ribbon cutting ceremony and student concert will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 7, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The ribbon cutting ceremony participants include First Selectman Peter Tesei, Board of Education Chair Barbara O’Neill, Superintendent of Schools Bill McKersie, GHS Headmaster Chris Winters, and members of the MISA Building Committee. Immediately following the ceremony, families and Town officials have been invited to performances by the GHS Band, Orchestra, Choir, Electronic Music, and Theater Programs.

Designed by Perkins+Will to meet LEED Silver standards, the 35,000 square foot PAC features tiered, 1,325-seat multi-purpose auditorium that can showcase the variety of programming offered at GHS and will be a resource for the Greenwich community. The PAC will support musical and dramatic theater, choral, band and orchestra groups, dance performances, and movie and speaker presentations. The PAC also includes an orchestra pit, a set design room, green room, two dressing rooms, piano, prop and costume storage rooms, and a large galleria entrance. The new building is fully wifi enabled.

Jackie Welsh, Vice Chair of the Building Committee stated, “The Building Committee is pleased to reach this milestone and be able to turn over to the Board of Education a quality performing arts center that fulfills the educational specifications. This project represents the dedication of the members of this Committee, Perkins+Will, the architectural firm, and Turner Construction Company, the construction manager.”

The Performing Arts Center was designed to provide a more flexible, multipurpose space appropriate for our high school, improve acoustics, and meet State guidelines on seating capacity. An acoustical engineer, David Greenberg of Creative Acoustics, was involved throughout the design and construction of the project to identify and implement the many elements impacting acoustics. The

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HVAC systems were designed to minimize background noise through duct placement, low velocity airflow, and vibration isolation. Acoustical elements include an orchestra shell, forestage reflector, millwork, sound doors, roof detailing that allays rain impact noise, and adjustable acoustic curtains which serve to optimize performer acoustics and allow for the widest dynamic range.

Dr. Chris Winters, headmaster of Greenwich High School stated, “A new Performing Arts Center has been something our entire community has looked forward to. I thank the Town of Greenwich for building this amazing space, and our students, staff, parents, and neighbors for their support, cooperation, and patience during this process. I think I speak for all involved when I say how excited I am for the opportunities this venue offers our renowned music and theater arts programs.”

Project Background: Originally constructed in 1970, the GHS Auditorium was undersized and did not match the acoustic abilities of the many programs that it housed. The BOE developed educational specifications in 2007 to identify the attributes of a facility required to support its programming. This included increasing the seating capacity from 860 seats, which was below the state guideline to accommodate half the student body. In June 2008, the Music Instructional Space and Auditorium (MISA) Building Committee was formed. Construction of the building commenced in July 2013, after experiencing a two year delay due to the discovery of contaminated soils and the required site remediation. The total project budget is $46 million. The Town of Greenwich has received $4 million in state reimbursement to date. Donations from the Campaign for MISA are expected to contribute $1 million to offset the Town’s expenditures.

Next Phase of Project: During the next phase of construction, approximately 11,000 square feet of new musical instructional spaces, sufficient to meet enrollment for band, orchestra and electronic music, will be built on the site of the existing auditorium, which is slated to be torn down. The 5,000 square feet of current music classrooms will be renovated for the choral program. The instructional spaces will encompass larger classrooms, practice rooms, additional storage spaces for instruments, and music libraries, which are lacking in the current facilities.

Perkins+Will, the architectural firm who designed the project, is an interdisciplinary, research-based architecture and design firm established in 1935 and founded on the belief that design has the power to transform lives and enhance communities. Each of the firm’s 24 offices and 1,800 professionals focuses on local, regional, and global work in a variety of practice areas. With hundreds of awardwinning projects annually, Perkins+Will is highly ranked among top global design firms. In 2015, Fast Company ranked Perkins+Will among the “The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Architecture.” Consultants for the architect are: Creative Acoustics, Consulting Engineering Services, Diversified Technology Consultants, id3A, Cosler Theater Design, and Sustainable Technologies Group.

Turner Construction Company, the construction manager for the project, is a North America-based, international construction services company and is a leading builder in diverse and numerous market segments. The company has earned recognition for undertaking large, complex projects, fostering innovation, embracing emerging technologies, and making a difference for their clients, employees and community.

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