Design Award Entries

Mulberry Pleasant View Auditorium

A 500‐seat auditorium located on the high school campus of a recently consolidated rural school district. The school district challenged the architect to design a space with a limited budget that could be used by students from all campuses and the community while creating an outdoor gathering space to honor a former school superintendent.

Project Statement

The site for the new auditorium was the site of the old high school which was built in the early part of the 20th Century and had been torn down when a new building was built. The site held sentimental value including senior walks which had the names of the graduates engraved in them. Because of their age the walks could not be relocated, so documentation of the names in the walks and a plan on how to honor the graduates became part of the design challenge.

Because the School District and community did not have an auditorium, choral and band concerts and plays were held in the cafeteria. Graduations and large programs were held in the
gym. The School District wanted a place for all these activities plus a place for testing, professional development, and community events.

Since the high school has less than 100 students in grades 9‐12 the auditorium needed to be designed to be comfortable for smaller audiences while also accommodating up to 500 people for graduations and Christmas concerts and Veterans’ Day programs. For this reason, half the seating was permanent seating installed on a sloping floor in front of the cross aisle located halfway back in the auditorium.

A folding partition on the back side of the cross aisle can create an intimate room for smaller events and can be opened to increase the room size to 500 seats by utilizing retractable chairback seating.

The lobby is designed to be used as a pre‐function space as well as an art gallery. When the retractable seating at the rear of the auditorium is pushed back the space at the rear of the auditorium can be set up for post event receptions or used for professional development or a band practice room.

The exterior of the building is divided into a large box containing the auditorium and gallery while the lobby and support spaces are organized in a low roofed bar across the front of the building which relates to the scale of the existing high school. To meet the owner’s budget the large volume utilizes a metal building structure with a single slope roof. The low bar is conventional steel framing. Both volumes are clad in bronze metal R‐panels with a large expanse of glass at lobby. Wood accents are utilized at the entry and lobby where the corner of the low bar has been cut away to reveal the interior of the building.

AIA Arkansas