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Translucent walls convey dramatic glow for adaptive-reuse arts center

Translucent walls convey dramatic glow for adaptive-reuse arts center

BD+C Staff | April 14, 2013

The City of Rahway (N.J.) Redevelopment Agency recently unveiled a dynamic icon representing the city's revitalization, in the form of a stunning Performing Arts Center.

Hamilton Stage is the pinnacle of the renovation and expansion of a circa 1920 industrial building for use as a performance venue for local, regional, and national companies. A Kalwall translucent Wall System creates a dramatic glow, drawing attention to the excitement within the structure. Originally built as a service center for Bell Telephone, the abandoned one-story building is constructed of concrete block, iron trusses, and wood purlins that suffered significant weather damage over the years.

But today, an imaginative design and utilization of state-of-the-art building materials, technologies and systems includes various forms of the most highly insulating translucent light transmitting material in the world. The impressive translucent wall system incorporates a curved section of Kalwall Kalcurve ® panels.

“Kalwall’s panels afforded us an opportunity to express the simplicity of the new architecture and its relationship to the industrial parts of the original structure, while serving as an ever-changing screen that varies with natural and artificial lighting conditions,” says Michael R. Schnoering, AIA. Hamilton Stage was designed by Farewill Mills Gatsch; the project was directed by Schnoering, who is now with Mills + Schnoering Architects, LLC.

The Hamilton Stage for the Performing Arts was designed as part of an arts "campus" that includes a future 1,000-seat outdoor amphitheater in a bend of the Rahway River, on a reclaimed brownfield site. The venue includes a 200-seat multi-use theatre, dressing rooms and green room, administrative offices, box office, a multi-purpose classroom, and a dance studio, as well as program support space and concessions. The stage and the dance studio accommodate productions of dance, theater, or music. An existing one-story office wing was replaced with a 1-1/2 story addition clad in translucent Kalwall that houses the dance studio and performance/patron support spaces, which enjoys the benefit of glare-free daylighting during the day. The exterior wall of the new addition is designed to glow at night, adding further excitement and drama to the theater experience.

The project team is pursuing LEED® certification of the design and final construction. Kalwall is the most highly insulating,translucent daylighting building material or system in the world and a significant contributor to the LEED certification of countless buildings. The completion of the Hamilton Stage will further extend Rahway's significant arts district, including the Union County Performing Arts Center, a piano conservatory, the future amphitheater, and planned artists'housing and studios.

Mills + Schnoering Architects, LLC is a full service architectural firm with broad experience in design,planning, and historic preservation. The firm’s principals have a strong portfolio of nationally recognized architecture and pursue projects that inspire and challenge from clients who share a commitment to quality and craftsmanship.

Rahway Performing Arts Center Hamilton Stage has been selected a National Endowment for the Arts Recipient.

More About Union County’s Performing Arts Center

In September 2012, Rahway’s new Hamilton Stage for the Performing Arts opened its doors to the public for its inaugural season, welcoming audiences to an extraordinary group of artistic affiliates: American Repertory Ballet, American Theater Group, Ballets with a Twist, Good Music – Mostly Classical funded by RSI Bank as part of its classical music initiative, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, StrangeDog Theatre Company, Vital Theatre Company, and as well as special events and educational programs.

The opening of Hamilton Stage is a significant expansion of Union County Performing Arts Center (UC PAC), which will govern and operate Hamilton Stage as part of its growing campus. With its intimate 199-seat Theater and 60-seat Front Room Theater/Rehearsal Hall, Hamilton Stage is the perfect complement to UC PAC’s 1365-seat Main stage, the 50-seat Loft Theater, and the adjacent 60-seat LightSoundSpace concert venue. When combined, these five performing arts spaces make the UC PAC campus one of the most versatile creative spaces in the state.

Kalwall Corporation is recognized as the industry leader in high-tech translucent building systems. Company founder, Robert Keller, Sr., invented the translucent sandwich panel in 1955 and Kalwall has continually evolved state-of-the-art daylighting technology. Kalwall’s eight systems include: Translucent Wall Systems, Unitized Curtainwall Systems, Window Replacement Systems, Standard-Unit Skylights, Pre-Engineered Self-Supporting Skylights, Custom Skyroofs®, Walkways and Canopies, Custom ClearspanTM Skyroofs and Structures.

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