|Location:||Washington, DC||Category:||Public Assembly|
|Cost:||107,000,000 USD||Size:||200,000 SF|
|Architect:||Bing Thom Architects|
Arena Stage Expansion and Renovation
On the Arena Stage Expansion and Renovation, Clark brought to life two bold visions. The project turned a decades-old, two-theater facility into the state-of-the-art Arena Stage at the Mead Center for the Performing Arts. For the first time in its 50-year history, Arena Stage has a vibrant campus, including a third theater, indoor public spaces, and all the amenities the Washington Drama Society desired.
The second vision was the architect’s. Bing Thom, a Canadian making his debut in America’s capital city, envisioned the new Mead Center for the Performing Arts to be, itself, a performance space. Arena Stage’s transparent exterior and open common areas are all part of the “theater experience,” Thom explains. “Whether visitors are inside the theater looking out or outside looking in…it is always a theater.”
The finished project is a testament to Clark’s engineering, technical, and managerial expertise.
The scope of work included building a new theater, the 200-seat Cradle, between the existing Kreeger Theater and Fichandler Stage. All three theaters were then enclosed in a transparent glass curtain wall system under a curving white roof. The existing theaters were fully renovated. The Kreeger’s seats were restored, existing finishes were refurbished, and new rigging and control booths were installed; the theater’s formerly-exposed roof was transformed to an open public area, overlooking the main level. The Fichandler’s renovations include a refinished stage, new catwalk, and carefully-restored plaster, concrete, and woodwork. Additional construction included adding expanded rehearsal spaces, dressing rooms, a box office, and office and administrative spaces.
The concrete work at Arena Stage, self-performed by Clark Concrete, raises industry standards for complexity and architectural finish. Typical concrete projects feature large quantities of horizontal deck compared to a small quantity of vertical framing. Concrete work at Arena Stage was just the opposite: the project featured 200,000 square feet of wall framing and just 140,000 square feet of horizontal elevated deck. There are 250,000 square feet of concrete walls in Arena Stage, and more than half (130,000 square feet) were radial or elliptical, with a large portion sloped four degrees out of plumb.
Arena Stage’s signature building element is the transparent curtain wall, supported by timber columns, underneath the curving roof. Creating this portion of the project took a high degree of technical excellence and attention to detail.
Comprised of more than 300 custom-made units, the curtain wall system is backed by a series of timber columns, which also support the structural steel framing above. These 18 parallel strand lumber columns were hand-lathed in Canada, measure between 46 and 58 feet, and are set four degrees out of plumb.
Each column is secured at the base with a cast-iron plate. A two-inch pin connection through the base allows the columns to lean four degrees off line. A galvanized steel bearing plate at the column’s head is set at a four degree pitch, creating a perpendicular connection at the bottom of each roof truss.
Each portion of the column erection process provided little margin for error. A 1/8-inch error in the column base plate would have created a five-inch error at the column head - a gap too great to properly secure a truss. The column base plates consist of two parallel iron plates welded perpendicular to the horizontal base. Each base plate is attached to the concrete with fixed dowels. The only option for adjustability in the base plate was to cut oversize dowel holes in the concrete so the plate could be dry-fit prior to being secured in place. This minimal amount of adjustment required each plate to be perfectly set before being secured.
Before raising the columns, Clark’s field engineers reviewed the IFC drawings and compared them with shop drawings from both the wood column and structural steel subcontractors. After confirming that each set of drawings’ work points matched, the team laid out the drawings with AutoCAD. Physical control points, established along the calculated axis of each column where it would intersect the ground, provided a consistent location to check column orientation. A third-party surveyor marked the location for each base plate.
Each of the columns was erected and temporarily secured with adjustable tube braces. Working with the steel erector, the field engineers carefully adjusted the braces until the columns were within tolerance. Column orientations were checked when the trusses landed on the columns, and again when adjacent trusses were tied in.
The completed Arena Stage Expansion and Renovation stands at the forefront of revitalization in its southwest Washington, D.C. neighborhood. The project also has been lauded by architecture critics and has earned several industry awards for craftsmanship, design, and construction.
- ABC of Metro DC Excellence in Construction Award - Specialty, Concrete, Over $10 Million
- ABC of Metro DC Excellence in Construction Award - Specialty, Iron Work
- Associated Builders and Contractors Excellence in Construction - Pyramid Award - Other Specialty Construction More than $1 Million
- Washington Building Congress Craftsmanship Award - Concrete/Cast-in-Place Concrete
- Washington Building Congress Craftsmanship Award - Doors & Windows/Curtain Wall
- Washington Building Congress Craftsmanship Award - Finishes/Drywall
- Washington Building Congress Craftsmanship Award - Metals/Structural Steel Framing
- Washington Contractor Award - Renovation/Restoration
- Best Overall Project, Mid-Atlantic Construction
- Best Cultural Project, Mid-Atlantic Construction
- Aon Build America Award - Building Renovation
- Washington Building Congress Craftsmanship Award - Acoustic Ceiling
- Washington Building Congress Craftsmanship Star Award - Acoustic Ceiling
- Washington Building Congress Craftsmanship Award - Lighting Systems
- Washington Building Congress Craftsmanship Award - Plaster (dryvit)
- Washington Building Congress Craftsmanship Award - Thermal and Moisture Protection