NEW YORK, NY
Fordham University at Lincoln Center wanted to renovate a room used for theater classes and student performances as part of an initiative to improve the quality and visibility of its theater program. The Kehoe Studio Theatre was created to fulfill that need.
The site of the new Studio Theatre was a plain black classroom that was used as a theater lab. This room sits adjacent to a mechanical equipment room and had lots of ductwork, drainage piping, and conduits passing through it; as a result it was crowded, filled with low-hanging obstacles, and noisy, unsuited to a theater.
The Kehoe Studio Theatre is situated at the intersection of two corridors. A new vaulted ceiling and rectangular frame span the width of the space trumpeting the location of the Studio Theatre and framing its entrance. Fordham’s dark red signature color is used in the pigmented Venetian plaster wall, complimented with orange Chinese lacquer and earth-toned linoleum used as a pin-board surface. Glossy finishes and stainless steel lettering sparkle and draw attention to the new theater.
The very wide opening at the corridor tapers into a narrower aisle leading to its fifty-one custom-designed fixed seats. The seating and the stage are surrounded by walls made of several shades of dark red wood slats. Steel pipes line the walls and the ceilings where they are placed to hang stage lighting, audio equipment, and scenery. The slatted walls provide acoustical reflections and conceal materials that provide acoustical absorption for the room and attenuation of outside noises. A heavy noise barrier wall was erected between the mechanical room and the theater. Sound lock vestibules, doors, and partitions were designed to enhance the acoustical quality of the theater by reducing external noise.
The ceiling, painted a dark grey color, has a system of steel pipes for scenery, lighting, and audio support, along with distributed outlet devices for stage lighting, sound and video. The coffered ceiling has acoustically absorptive materials placed deep in the coffers along with a system of incandescent house lighting and fluorescent work lighting. Push button controls allow several lighting “looks” for rehearsal, classroom use, or housekeeping, so that a stage lighting control board operator does not have to be present to operate the preset lighting controls.
A control booth is located at the back of the house, and it can be accessed from the house or from an adjacent corridor, through a storage area below the seating. The latest in new theater systems were installed for stage lighting and audio and the backbone installed for video projection. New mechanical systems are separately zoned and centrally controlled by the campus system. The ventilation and air conditioning system is specially designed to be quiet to suit the needs of a theater used for spoken drama. Extraneous ducts, pipes, and conduits were relocated away from the Studio Theatre to remove obstructions and noise sources and to allow the installation of a pipe grid at the ceiling.
New actor entrances are provided from each corner of the room: from stage left and stage right, from the entry aisle, and from the booth by the use of a cross-over located in a corridor outside of the Studio Theatre. The stage floor is “sprung” and resilient to provide comfort for actor movement. Stage lighting equipment is integrated within an existing dimmer room serving a nearby auditorium. Accessible wheelchair viewing positions are provided by removal of fixed chairs which is simply accomplished without tools or lifting.