(In)formal Performing arts center at Cranbrook Academy
Instructors: Steven Brubaker and Paul Endres
Cranbrook Academy is a balancing act of polar conditions: formal courtyard campuses surrounded by informal parks. This proposal for a performing arts center embeds itself within the courtyard typology and reinforces axial relationships through the implementation of the informal condition.
Two pristine masses, one containing performance and pre-function program, and the other back of house envelop a courtyard. The courtyard is protected by a floating canopy whose form is a revelation of structural forces. The result is a lively space full of filtered sunlight and constantly changing shadows. Surrounded by steps that act as seating, the courtyard becomes a place of informal gathering and impromptu performance.
The site's unique position between the formal and informal is again addressed within the performance hall. Two shafts of space exist; one running east-west through the courtyard, and another perpendicular connecting the formal campus to the informal pine forest. As visitors enter the performance hall from the courtyard, they are brought down a grand staircase that terminates with a spectacular view to the forest.
An open-air courtyard and canopy respond to the polar camps of axial courtyard campus versus expansive meandering park.
An open-air courtyard and canopy responds to the polar camps of axial courtyard campus versus expansive meandering park.
Procession, circulation, material and program
The canopy is based on an isostatic net. Structure follows the primary force lines while material between is removed. The result is a structure that is lighter and uses less material, with openings that provide for sunlight and shadows.
The isostatic net also determines the location of vertical supports which in turn add variation to the facade.