The design for the new Performing Arts Hall at St. Lawrence Arts (SLA) integrates a state of the art 400-seat performing arts venue with an exterior façade that welcomes and complements the neighborhood and the existing Parish Hall of the former St. Lawrence Church. The intent of the design is not to merely copy the architecture of the old building but rather to stand alone as an iconic example of twenty-first century technology and design while simultaneously paying homage to, and respect for, the Parish Hall and the Munjoy Hill neighborhood.
The design process has included meeting with the Historic Preservation (HP) Board and the Munjoy Hill neighborhood. Our architect, David Lloyd, of Archetype Architects, has conducted three public meetings with the City of Portland's HP Board during which the design has been discussed and critiqued. Input from the HP Board and the public has helped to facilitate and enable the design to evolve and improve.
The first meeting was a general discussion of massing and scale and of the building’s integration into the neighborhood and its relationship to the existing Parish Hall. Subsequent meetings have brought St. Lawrence Arts to the point that the majority of the HP Board feels that we are going in the right direction and that we have a design which will eventually be approved after a few more public meetings and further guidance from the HP Board.
In brief, the recommendations from the HP Board and the public has led to: (1) the development of the entry porch, creating an inviting outdoor meeting and entry space, (2) the incorporation of the pink granite elements in the facade taken from the original sanctuary, (3) lowering the overall height of the building’s massing with the façade altered vertically and horizontally in order to reflect the scale of the neighborhood, and (4) further refinement and detail of the design of the promenade room and rooftop elements. The exterior materials now consist of a granite base, a perforated metal skin and cement panels. The exterior is designed to be backlit to create the appearance of a Japanese lantern at night. Our architects and the HP Board have not made a final decision on exactly which metal and pattern will be selected.
The overall height of the main part of the building is approximately 41 feet, four feet below present zoning. With the addition of the promenade room, which is stepped back from the main façade, the average height is 52 feet 10 inches. The proposed height is considerably less than the previous structure which stood in the same location and can be seen in many of the apartment blocks located in the East End neighborhood.
The proposed 400-seat Performing Arts Hall at SLA would bring a unique cultural experience that does not currently exist in Portland. Events that do not attract a large enough audience for a venue over 1,000 seats or, that are too expensive for venues 200 seats and smaller would now have a home in Portland with the SLA Performance Hall. This new space would attract such events as chamber music, dance, readings, opera, lectures, top touring theatre groups, and an exciting group of musicians. Artists such as Judy Collins, Keb Mo, Lucinda Williams, Ani DiFranco, Bruce Cockburn, David Bromberg, Patti Griffin, Colin Hay, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Arlo Guthrie, would all have a perfect sized auditorium. This venue would greatly enhance the creative arts communtiy in our area, and be a tremendous economic boost to Portland.
St. Lawrence Arts has begun work on a comprehensive Transportation Demand Management Plan, which will include valet parking, use of the Metro system, shuttle service, and off-site lots to prevent congestion within the immediate area around the property and inconvenience to our neighbors and local businesses.
The building design and the transportation plan will continue to evolve through this process and we encourage folks to stay up to date right here, or follow SLA on Twitter and Facebook and on our website. And we hope you will sign up for our monthly email newsletters where you will be updated on our events and other news!
~The St. Lawrence Arts Team