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Arts There is no distinction between front and back of the house because the central stage is part of the lobby and circulation area. The client’s strong vision has been one of the main driving forces behind its unique and innova- tive architecture and structural design. Architect for the job is US-based Rafael Viñoly - his first project in the UK - and he says by dissolving distinction between production and performance, the building extends this art form into the public realm, making it more accessible. Rafael Viñoly Architects consequently designed the Performing Arts Centre to include a fully-glazed transparent facade, which allows the two auditoria and the stage to be revealed to the street outside. Jim Dunn, Project Director for Adams Kara Tay- lor, says the scheme has not just been driven by the need for openness. He adds: “The challenges for the job weren’t just associated with getting the architectural vision cor- rect, we also had to deal with a very tight and con- fined site, which ultimately dictated the shape of the building.” One side of the theatre abuts a multi-storey car park and consequently didn’t need to be glazed, but the other three facades, especially the curvature of Rutland Street at the front elevation, lent them- selves to the impressive sweeping glass frontage of the complex. “The large curved facade is also central to mak- ing the theatre transparent,” adds Mr Dunn. At ground level there is no structure, just 5m high sheets of glass joined together to create a seamless transparent wall. Above the glass wall is a 130m- long mezzanine walkway suspended from facade columns, which will enable people to circulate at There are no first-floor level. In order to main- structural columns tain the transparent outside view walkways and a this, there are inture it was decidedto have as few view-blocking columnsalong the facade aspossible. To achieveand everything is-vision for the strucsuspended from theroof, incuding facade, conference room fact no structural columns and everything is suspended from the roof. Above: A sweeping glass clad facade will hang from the roof. 2 con-This includes the facade and walkway, a 125m ference room and all heavy plant. Below: Bringing the public closer to the performance was the major driving force behind the project’s transparent design. Bovis Lend Lease started work on site in June 2005 and once the inner concrete structure, base- ment and cores were complete, steelwork erection was able to begin in early 2006. Steelwork contractor, William Hare has erected more than 3,000t of steel for the roof structure, with the remainder of its final 5,200 tonnage being ac- counted for by two steel-framed shoulder blocks which will house administration offices, workshops and changing rooms. The steel roof is made up of a number of 6m deep trusses which have varying spans from 25m to 30m. The roof is also functional, explains Mr Dunn. “The plant room hangs from the bottom cord of the trusses and acts as ballast.” NSC March 2007 15


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