Kent Concert Hall Atrium

Presented by: Darrin Brooks

The new atrium is an addition to a fine arts complex for a newly created arts college on a university campus. The scope of the project included an addition that involved increasing accessibility by adding an elevator, restrooms, and improved circulation. The new atrium allows for entry into the fine arts complex and provides a large open space with a grand staircase. 

My work as interior designer included; furniture, finishes, custom chandeliers, illuminated light panels, carpet patterns, restrooms, and mezzanines. The concept for the space was to create an environment that represents and embodies the artistic mission of the new college. The objective of the design was to heighten the experience of creative energy through the impression of an upscale hotel lobby. The space needed to be multifunctional by being responsive to day use for students and faculty, as well as evening use during artistic, theatrical, and musical performances. The bold colors in textiles and lighting communicate a contemporary and unspoken message that the arts are alive and flourishing on campus.  

This project included many challenges. There was an extremely short design/build time required by the university due to its academic calendar. The main funding source required that the addition bring the existing complex up to code. However, this budget did not seem to include a realistic figure that would create the space originally envisioned. I recommended to the college they meet with potential donors as a way of achieving the mission of the design. Donors and additional funding sources were secured. When limited resources existed for artwork, lighting, and furniture, I used innovative conventions such as built-out illuminated panels with contemporary wall covering as a way of integrating artwork in the space. 

The new atrium is upscale, modern, and embodies a creative vibe. The use of materials and color are bold and dynamic. The glass lighting pendants were each hand selected and designed as a visual composition to communicate vitality both day and night. In the evening, the dramatic pendant lighting and illuminated panels create a high-style environment that allows attendees a vibrant place to gather before and after events in the arts complex. Details finesse the space with clarity and style. 

The objectives of creating a space that brands the college and elevates and energizes the community were met. During the day, the space allows for quiet study areas, as well as collaboration in light-filled areas used for small meetings, which are set against the vistas of the outdoor courtyard. In the evening, the dramatic pendant lighting and illuminated panels create a high-style environment that allows attendees a vibrant place to gather before and after events in the arts complex. The space also serves to instruct design students as they see and use contemporary furniture not seen elsewhere on campus. The atrium is elegant and an exquisitely intimate habitat that combines an impassioned atmosphere and a decidedly different contemporary comfort.

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