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AIA Publications: 2005 Annual Design Awards Competition Gallery
Forest Hills Fine Arts Center
Grand Rapids, Michigan


Holabird & Root LLC, Chicago, Illinois, Integrated Architecture, Grand Rapids, Michigan


Forest Hills Public School District, Grand Rapids, Michigan


Triangle Associates, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Project Description

The design of this community theatre is broken into distinct areas, creating an intimate experience for 200 or a full house of over 1,200, with exceptional sight lines and direct access to the stage for each audience member.

Balcony and box fronts are transparent to give a feeling of floating in space. Walls of curved wood panels allow the audience to imagine that they are inside a musical instrument.

The Center provides a gathering place for the entire community. Stunning in the use of materials, light and building massing, the facility was completed on a modest construction budget and includes innovative sustainable design features.



Jury Comments

This project was interesting with respect to the public spaces, the auditorium and some of the educational spaces. We recognize the architects’ ability to create pleasant, nice and warm spaces with a fairly low budget, using modern and contemporary materials. The lobby and the back of the balcony is just what it is, not fussy, but warm and inviting. The building is nice in the daytime and nighttime. At night, it becomes a destination point for people coming to the arts.   The challenge of trying to create an intimate space for a large number of seats is very tricky without making it seem like an auditorium. It is still huge, but there are clearly some ideas that make it warm and inviting.

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