By Eric Althoff
SARASOTA, Fla.—Booker High School’s Visual Performing Arts (VPA) Center is being expanded by SchenkelShultz Architecture to give the venue a whole new look.
SchenkelShultz’s plans entail expanding the lobby so that it can function as its own event and exhibition space. The firm will also be completely redesigning the theater to add a tiered orchestra level as well as a new balcony. A new black box theater will be added, as will a green room, classrooms and a costume shop. Sightlines within the theater will be improved and enhancements made to the space’s acoustics as well.
The firm took the idea of a gemstone and translated it to the redesign. Accordingly, the lobby will now feature a transparent curtain wall, and the theater space itself will include digital projections that can be changed by the programmers as needed.
Ken Dean, partner and lead of SchenkelShultz’s Sarasota office, said in a recent statement that Booker High School’s theater represents a rich local history in the arts, and one his firm was anxious to expand.
Dean’s SchenkelShultz colleague, Ekta Desai, said that their work will make the historic theater able to meet modern challenges of performance and education.
“Simultaneously, we have elevated the space’s production, technology, acoustics, and function, creating an environment that reflects the school’s longstanding reputation for excellence,” said Desai.
Construction is now underway by general contractor Core Construction, with completion aimed for later this year.