At age 35, B-H’s auditorium needs a face-lift

Posted March 27, 2013 at 1:38 pm

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By Michele Linck | Index editor

HULL – The Boyden-Hull High School auditorium and the school’s westernmost entrance on the south side may both be in for a dramatic makeover. Work will begin this summer, if the bids are affordable.

The school board voted 5-0 in its regular meeting on March 19 to contract with TSP, a Sioux Falls-based architecture-engineering-design firm, for both projects.

It also approved a payment to TSP for the design proposals done so far.

If the auditorium project proceeds, it will be the first improvement for the auditorium since 1978-79 when it was built. The rough estimate for the update is $300,000.

The new entrance is estimated at $400,000, but Superintendent Steve Grond cautioned that proceeding with the entrance after the specific plans are drawn will depend on the cost estimate and contract bids.

Auditorium ‘warmer’

If the project proceeds, the auditorium makeover will include a new color scheme — yet to be determine — and new seats, which will be installed in staggered rows to provide a clear line-of-sight from each one. New carpet will line the aisles, leaving exposed concrete beneath the seats; the existing concrete will be smoothed and tinted.

Other recommended improvements include low-light sconces installed on the side walls, and new acoustical materials, including wooden sound baffles along the back of the side walls. The wood will also add some visual warmth to the space, TSP representative Sean Ervin told the board.

The upper rear wall of the auditorium will feature a durable acoustical foam which can be finished in any color, pattern, as a giant abstract art piece or photo mural, Ervin said.

Ervin told the board that an acoustical test performed Feb. 19 showed that the auditorium’s acoustics are “really good.” He added that the heating and air conditioning system is a “little bit noisy. But OK.”

Ervin said that the planned improvements would make the auditorium less square and a little more rectangular, which in itself will make the acoustics better.

The school board showed interest in adding a “thrust” to the stage. It’s a curved addition that would extend the front of the stage out toward the audience 9 feet at the center and 4 feet at the sides, which would also incorporate stairs

That space would be lost to use by the band, but would bring the performers out closer to the audience. No decision on the addition was made Tuesday.

‘Building’ anticipation

If plans proceed, the exterior entrance to the theater area will be redesigned to feature a dramatic, well-lit glass entryway along with a built-in concrete planter that will allow for a seasonal botanical accent alongside a new wheelchair ramp to the doors. Exterior concrete seating near the doors will serve as a gathering spot for audience members and others.

The more exciting exterior will become part of the theater-going experience, Jamison told the board. He said the setting itself would heighten anticipation for the performance inside.

TSP’s certified interior designer for the project, Karen Mutschelknaus, presented various options to the board, including four different color schemes for the auditorium’s new seats, carpeting and wall coverings.

The school board had also considered a concept by Sioux City-based Cannon Moss Brygger Architects, for which it paid. That design did not include a concept for the entrance.