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The Need


Scope of Project

Key Features

Design Team


The Need for A New Performing Arts Center

Asheville Aglow

Times have changed. Asheville’s main performing arts hall—the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium—is a traditional civic auditorium originally constructed in the 1930’s.

Pack Square Park

Asheville area residents enjoy the completed Pack Square Park, the expanded Asheville Art Museum, and soon-to-be renovated Diana Wortham Theater. Still, something will be missing.

The new Performance Center is the logical next step in advancing our region’s cultural life—so critical not only to attract tourists, but to serve area families, including teens, senior citizens and seasonal residents. Our design team will be weighing in on the many important aspects of our project including timeline and budget as we move forward.


The Site

Asheville Site
Photo courtesy Calloway Johnson Moore & West

Located south of City Hall, the 2.4 acre site is ideal for The Performance Center project:

  • The property is just a few blocks east of Asheville’s lively Biltmore Avenue, home to locally owned shops and restaurants.
  • The adjacent, newly renovated Pack Square Park offers outdoor performing spaces that we will not need to duplicate.
  • The proximity to nearby Pack Place—with Asheville Art Museum, Diana Wortham Theater and YMI Cultural Center—creates an expanded cultural district.
  • The site offers easy vehicular access to South Charlotte Street to the east and ready pedestrian access through the Park and all other sides of Asheville’s walkable downtown area.

As an editorial in the Asheville Citizen-Times on September 2, 2008 observed:

"It's hard to imagine a site more suited to the purpose."


Scope of the Project

The project includes the planning, design and construction of:

  • The Performance Center building
  • Mixed use development facilities with ample parking.
  • A connection of the entire site to Pack Square Park to the north and the Eagle/Market Streets neighborhood to the south

Asheville’s Downtown Master Plan, adopted in 2009, fully recommends The Performance Center, noting its role and impact on the downtown cultural district and the future Eagle/Market Streets redevelopment initiatives. The Plan stresses how important it will be to coordinate master planning efforts among all of the key organizations in the Eagle/Market Streets neighborhood.


Key Features of The Performance Center

The preliminary program emphasizes flexible spaces that can support a wide array of arts, community and business functions:


Main Hall

Full House Kids
The Music Center at Strathmore, N. Bethesda, MD – William Rawn Associates
  • 1,750 seats, with 250 seats on stage
  • Variable acoustics, ranging from no amplification for classical events to a full sound system for Broadway shows and musical entertainers
  • Behind the scenes support spaces


Multi-purpose/Rehearsal Room

  • Space for area orchestras and other large ensembles to rehearse
  • Ability to support student concerts, recording sessions and social events with live music


Digital Media Arts Center

  • State-of-the-art technology for artists, universities, schools and businesses
  • To support, develop, edit and display audio and visual projects


Education Spaces

  • Classroom space suitable for a wide range of performing arts programs
  • Continuing education for individuals who want to broaden their experiences outside of an academic structure


Lobbies and Gathering Spaces

Pack Square Park
Artist’s rendering,
Pack Square Park

Lobbies at the Pack Square Park level and Eagle/Market Streets entrances will serve as community gathering spaces.

Locally owned shops and café will generate income, support local artists, and serve the community.

Outdoor landscaping, seating areas and connections to Pack Square Park will integrate more green spaces into the urban environment.


Design Team

Performing arts centers are a complex building type in the field of architecture, and their design is a highly collaborative process involving many professional team members.

The Performance Center has formed a collaboration between a lead design architect with a successful track record in performing arts center design (William Rawn Associates) and an administrative architect (CJMW Architecture) with great experience in building in this region.

Both firms are fully LEED certified, and sustainable design will be emphasized throughout the project.

Other key members of the team will include experts in theatre design (Theatre Projects Consultants) and acoustic design (Kirkegaard Associates).


William Rawn Associates (WRA): Design Architect

William Rawn
William Rawn

William Rawn Associates has an international reputation for the design of civic and cultural buildings. Named the top architectural firm in the U.S. by ARCHITECT magazine in May 2009, WRA is well known for creating award winning performing arts spaces.

'62 Center, Williams College, MA
’62 Center, Williams College, MA

Among the performance centers designed by WRA are Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood (Lenox, Mass.); The Music Center at Strathmore (Bethesda, MD); Williams College ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance (Williamstown, Mass.); Sorenson Center for the Performing Arts at Babson College (Wellesley, Mass.), and Studzinski Recital Hall at Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME). The firm also designed the Koka Booth Amphitheatre at Regency Park in Cary, NC.

The Music Center at Strathmore, N. Bethesda, MD
The Music Center at Strathmore, N. Bethesda, MD

The intensive design process led by WRA and CJMW will engage arts partners, community groups and interested citizens in master planning. This key process will determine how The Performance Center, mixed-use development, and parking will be located on the site. Formal design can then progress with a utilization program, conceptual designs for the main hall, preliminary renderings of the exterior, a cost estimate and a master schedule.


CJMW Architecture: Administrative Architect

Alan Moore
Alan Moore

CJMW Architecture will be the administrative architect for the project. CJMW will be involved throughout the process that includes early planning and approval, design, and construction.

CJMW is headquartered in Winston-Salem with offices in Columbia, SC, and Lynchburg, VA. Recent local projects include Hotel Indigo, the Biltmore Village retail shops and the Lake Junaluska Conference Center master plan.

This team will provide a crucial base of knowledge and experience in building in our challenging terrain, as well as familiarity with area contractors, tradesmen, artisans, and suppliers who will become involved in the project


Theatre Projects Consultants (TPC): Theatre Planner

TPC Team

With more than 1,200 projects in 70 countries, Theatre Projects Consultants’ work ranges from intimate studio theatres to the type of large multipurpose performance hall planned for The Performance Center. The firm offers a talented team of specialists with unrivalled capabilities and a huge range of practical experience. Their principal offices are in Connecticut and London, England.

TPC’s projects include the new AT&T Performing Arts Center (Dallas, TX); the Kodak Theatre (Los Angeles, CA); the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center (Atlanta, GA), and the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center (Charlotte, NC).

TPC will provide the three-dimensional understanding of spaces, using renderings and models to address such areas as auditorium volume and shape, seating layout and sightlines, lobby functions and patron experience, audience circulation and accessibility, and stage layout and backstage requirements for performers.


Kirkegaard Associates: Acoustic Designer

Larry Kirkegaard
Larry Kirkegaard

Kirkegaard Associates of Chicago, Illinois, has been selected as the acoustic designer for the new Performance Center. Firm founder Larry Kirkegaard and his associate Joseph Myers will team on the project design.

Kirkegaard Associates has consulted on a significant number of the world’s premier performing arts facilities designed or renovated over the last forty years.

Joseph Myers
Joseph Myers

Regionally the firm designed for the Porter Center (Brevard, NC) and the Peace Center (Greenville, SC).

The collaboration among these design professionals will produce a high quality design for the new Performance Center, one that is best suited for the site, contributes to the redevelopment goals for the district, and fits within the project goals, budget and timeline.


Design Consultants

OLIN, urban design and landscape architecture (Philadelphia, PA)
Acclaimed as a top design firm, OLIN is dedicated to affecting positive change through landscape architecture, urban design and planning. This design studio crafts timeless spaces that promote social interaction and enhance life. They successfully realize projects locally and internationally, each one reflecting its unique context. Through rigorous research, analysis and a dynamic design process, OLIN incorporates the intrinsic qualities of a site to generate a landscape that is embraced by its community. Sustainability is a central tenet of their holistic approach, uniting natural processes with technical innovation to produce contemporary and beautiful places.

Site Design Studio, local landscape architecture (Weaverville, NC)
This woman-owned community planning and landscape architecture firm is certified as a Historically Underutilized Business (HUB WBE) with the North Carolina Statewide Uniform Certification (SWUC) Program. SDS is dedicated to delivering high-quality client management and design services and is founded upon the experience of landscape architects with a range of expertise in both public and private sectors. Communication and mutual understanding are key to successful relationships, and SDS believes that successful relationships lead to successful design practices and a higher quality of life. At SDS the team members focus on the significant experience and expertise each professional offers, resulting in successful projects and satisfied clients.

TimHaahs, parking consultant (Atlanta, GA)
A key to successful design for public event venues is having a multi-disciplined firm specializing in the planning and design of parking structures. TimHaahs’ engineers, architects, and parking specialists focus on parking solutions, bringing a unique perspective to clients in private corporations, real estate, education, healthcare, government, and transit. TimHaahs provides comprehensive asset management services for its clients, which include quality design procedures and maintenance plan preparation, condition surveys, and full engineering services.

Mattern & Craig, civil engineering (Asheville, NC)
This civil engineering and surveying firm is recognized for specializing in outstanding service to local and state governments and their agencies. On every Mattern & Craig project, a principal is dedicated to every project team and in daily contact with the work, ensuring clients a strong advocate with authority to allocate necessary resources to get their projects done on time and within budget; and continuity of service from start to finish. Complete surveying services are performed by the firm’s in-house field survey crews to meet critical time schedules.

LeMessurier Consultants, structural engineering (Cambridge, MA)
Since 1961, the firm has done much more than make buildings stand; they have intimately shared in the creative process that produces significant architecture. More than 90 percent of current work focuses on services to architects and owners. Each employee is committed to the engineering profession and to the task of producing structures that answer clients' needs, often in an imaginative and bold architectural form. Recent decades have provided extensive experience with William Rawn Associates (The Performance Center’s design architect) including The Music Center at Strathmore and downtown Boston’s W Hotel.


Commitment to Sustainability

Social responsibility is a key management objective within The Performance Center in Asheville. Our commitment is to sustain our environment and our community.



LEED Certification

William Rawn Associates, our design architect, and Calloway Johnson Moore & West, our local architect, are fully LEED certified and passionate about green design and construction.

Efficient planning and environmentally friendly applications will reduce The Performance Center’s environmental impact.

Our key priorities include energy efficiency, healthy indoor environmental quality, and unique design applications that will provide for a fully sustainable environment for the performing arts.

We advocate high-performance and sustainable construction.

We will actively pursue LEED certification.



Bele Chere

The Performance Center embraces its role as part of a larger social community.

We will support both the business and local community, through our socially responsible design program and ethical procurement practices in construction.

Grove Arcade Street

The Performance Center is committed to employing local firms, including minority- and women-owned businesses, in the design and construction phases of the project. We will ensure that minority and women contractors are aware of opportunities in a timely manner.