USGBC Sustainability Award Nomination
Award of Merit
InBusiness Commercial Design Awards
Best New Development-Retail
A Central Creative Campus
A new creative campus – a place of serenity and solace, a place in nature to nourish the creative spirit, a place where original musical theater comes to life. This is Northern Sky Theater.
When Strang was approached to design a new creative home for them, the theater had recently gone through a rebranding process making this the perfect opportunity for Northern Sky to rethink and expand its visionary horizons.
Northern Sky Theater had operated for twenty-nine years without a permanent home. While its operations grew, the company continued to expand into more and more rental facilities, which were spread out in ways that made day-to-day operations logistically difficult.
The purpose of building the two-building campus was to give Northern Sky a central place to locate its operations, encompassing all aspects of its needs: storage, performance, administrative, rehearsals and events. One of the primary objectives of the new theater was to recapture a feeling of intimacy, personalize the performance venue, and make the new campus a fitting companion to the outdoor venue.
The Creative Center, located in Fish Creek, Wisconsin, features 23,600 SF of space, housing the theater, box office, storage, and rehearsal space all on one property. This project provides the company with a permanent home, enabling it to maintain daily operations and develop performances for the theater’s 35,000 annual visitors.
The design expression of the project is decidedly forward-looking and modern, at the same time it has been specifically designed to fit into its rural Door County context. Another unique characteristic of this project is the introduction of daylight into the theater through vertically proportioned 3-foot-wide by 20-foot-tall windows that mirror the vertical pines surrounding Northern Sky’s outdoor Park Theater. Daylight control is provided when needed, by tall, beautifully crafted shutters which can also be left open at dusk to afford patrons with a delightful outdoor-like experience of this theater nestled in the woods.
Preserving the natural surroundings of the property was an important consideration in the project’s design. The site survey identified trees of a certain size that were to be preserved, and the landscape design incorporated native plants and organic hardscaping to blend the buildings with the wooded landscape. In addition, a stone farm wall was preserved and repurposed to act as an effective border between the parking area and woods to the south of the facility.