This project was designed in partnership with Steinberg Hart
This space not only showcases and embraces Eau Claire’s diverse performing arts community but is flexible enough to host a variety of events. This 130,000-SF performance center features a 1,129-seat main theater, a 397-seat mid-size theater, and a third floor gathering space that can be transformed for various types of performances. Strang’s designers included space for studios, art galleries, performance rehearsals, a scene shop, green room, and offices. The Visit Eau Claire visitors’ welcome center and the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center also both have space in the building
Looking Outside In
From the exterior, the building is represented as a monolithic stone mass strategically punctured to reveal colorful geode of spaces within. The dark hornblende stone, quarried less than 50 miles from Eau Claire, lends the surface a natural texture while also simultaneously setting off the large, colorful expanses of glass overlooking the river. It also provides contrast for the shimmering feature copper waves.
Playing with Color
Within, the playful use of color building contrasts with the monolithic appearance of the exterior and helps each space retain a unique identity. The colors were inspired by the natural ebb and flow of colors found in nature throughout the day. The largest theater venue, the RCU theater, captures the unique colors of sunrise, contrasting muted blue with bright copper (echoing the use of copper on the exterior of the building).
At 1,200 seats, this theater provides the community with a state-of-the-art concert hall that is the ideal setting for everything from more traditional theater with elaborate sets, to choral and orchestral performances—a flexibility made possible by the customized acoustical stage shell and orchestra pit lift.
To contrast with the large performance hall, the 400-seat JAMF theater, which has colors inspired by the muted oranges and maroons of sunset, is a supremely flexible space meant to accommodate nearly limitless reconfiguration and experimentation—everything from black box theater or theatre in the round, to a more traditional thrust arrangement. It even offers a ballroom arrangement for cocktail hour or formal events. Dynamic architectural elements—light fixtures that raise and lower, repositionable acoustical ceiling reflectors, balcony rails that raise and lower or can be removed entirely from the room – all contribute to the flexibility of the space and allow the space to maintain an intimacy despite its varying functions and size.